February 22, 2024

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New Rodent-Borne Virus Discovered in Multiple US Regions

New Rodent-Borne Virus Discovered in Multiple US Regions, Human Infection Linked to Fatal Cardio-Pulmonary Disease!



Caution! New Rodent-Borne Virus Discovered in Multiple US Regions, Human Infection Linked to Fatal Cardio-Pulmonary Disease!

Recently, the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases published a new study: Biologists at the University of Arkansas have identified a new virus – the Ozark orthohantavirus.

This virus belongs to the family of viruses (orthohantavirus) that can be transmitted from rodents to humans, potentially leading to fatal cardio-pulmonary diseases upon human infection.

 

New Rodent-Borne Virus Discovered in Multiple US Regions, Human Infection Linked to Fatal Cardio-Pulmonary Disease!

Named the Ozark orthohantavirus because it was discovered on the fur-covered cotton rat in the Ozark Plateau grasslands, it is phylogenetically related to other orthohantaviruses that cause severe human diseases.

Orthohantaviruses are a group of zoonotic viruses primarily found in rodents, many of which are pathogenic to humans. Pathogenic orthohantaviruses in the Americas are hosted by rodents from the Sigmodontinae and Neotominae subfamilies and can cause Hantavirus Cardio-Pulmonary Syndrome (HCPS) in humans, with a mortality rate as high as 30%-40%.

Kristian Forbes, the author of the study and an associate professor of biological sciences, stated, “This is the first orthohantavirus detected in Arkansas and the second confirmed orthohantavirus found in fur-covered cotton rats across various U.S. regions. Notably, the close relation of the Ozark virus to other viruses causing severe human diseases provides crucial public health information.”

Forbes’ research focuses on developing strategies to detect and intercept zoonotic diseases, including those originating in animals but spreading to humans, such as COVID-19 and HIV. The study targets high-risk virus groups in bats and rodents in the United States, Europe, and Africa.

The Ozark virus research, primarily conducted by Forbes’ doctoral student Nathaniel Mull, analyzed lung samples from fur-covered cotton rats captured in the Ozark Plateau region of Arkansas in 2020 and 2021. Of the 338 rodent samples, 26 (7.7%) tested positive for the Ozark virus, with positive serum reactions observed in rodents from five different grassland locations.

Researchers conducted next-generation sequencing on lung tissue samples from 13 orthohantavirus serum-positive rodents from three grassland locations. After quality filtering, de novo assembly, and annotation of overlapping groups, the researchers found that the newly discovered Ozark virus is closely related to known human pathogens. It suggests considering the Ozark virus as a potential cause of future HCPS cases in Arkansas, surrounding states, and other habitats with fur-covered cotton rats.

In summary, this discovery not only expands the geographic distribution of fur-covered cotton rats carrying orthohantaviruses in the United States (previously limited to Florida and Texas, now extending to the Ozark Plateau), but it also underscores the need for ongoing monitoring and sequencing of the newly discovered Ozark orthohantavirus to address its potential threat to public health.

New Rodent-Borne Virus Discovered in Multiple US Regions, Human Infection Linked to Fatal Cardio-Pulmonary Disease!

(source:internet, reference only)


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