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Virol J. 2010 Mar 18;7:64. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-7-64.

Encephalomyocarditis virus infection in an Italian zoo.

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Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia Romagna B Ubertini (IZSLER), Via Bianchi, 7/9 - 25124 Brescia, Italy.


A fatal Encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) infection epidemic involving fifteen primates occurred between October 2006 and February 2007 at the Natura Viva Zoo. This large open-field zoo park located near Lake Garda in Northern Italy hosts one thousand animals belonging to one hundred and fifty different species, including various lemur species. This lemur collection is the most relevant and rich in Italy. A second outbreak between September and November 2008 involved three lemurs. In all cases, the clinical signs were sudden deaths generally without any evident symptoms or only with mild unspecific clinical signs. Gross pathologic changes were characterized by myocarditis (diffuse or focal pallor of the myocardium), pulmonary congestion, emphysema, oedema and thoracic fluid. The EMCV was isolated and recognized as the causative agent of both outbreaks. The first outbreak in particular was associated with a rodent plague, confirming that rats are an important risk factor for the occurrence of the EMCV infection.

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