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Vet Res. 2010 Nov-Dec;41(6):54. doi: 10.1051/vetres/2010027. Epub 2010 Apr 29.

Emerging and re-emerging viruses of the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.).

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Institute for Bee Research, Friedrich-Engels-Str. 32, 16540 Hohen Neuendorf, Germany.


Until the late 1980s, specific viral infections of the honey bee were generally considered harmless in all countries. Then, with the worldwide introduction of the ectoparasite mite Varroa destructor, beekeepers encountered increasing difficulties in maintaining their colonies. Epidemiological surveys and laboratory experiments have demonstrated that the newly acquired virulence of several viruses belonging to the family Dicistroviridae (acute bee paralysis virus, Kashmir bee virus and Israeli acute paralysis virus) in Europe and the USA had been observed in relation with V. destructor acting as a disseminator of these viruses between and within bee colonies and as an activator of virus multiplication in the infected individuals: bee larvae and adults. Equal emphasis is given to deformed wing virus (DWV) belonging to the Iflaviridae. Overt outbreaks of DWV infections have been shown to be linked to the ability of V. destructor to act not only as a mechanical vector of DWV but also as a biological vector. Its replication in mites prior to its vectoring into pupae seemed to be necessary and sufficient for the induction of a overt infection in pupae developing in non-viable bees with deformed wings. DWV in V. destructor infested colonies is now considered as one of the key players of the final collapse. Various approaches for combating bee viral diseases are described: they include selection of tolerant bees, RNA interference and prevention of new pathogen introduction. None of these approaches are expected to lead to enhanced bee-health in the short term.

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