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J Virol. 2015 Jan 15;89(2):1389-403. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02019-14. Epub 2014 Nov 12.

Cyclic avian mass mortality in the northeastern United States is associated with a novel orthomyxovirus.

Author information

1
Baker Institute for Animal Health, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA aba75@cornell.edu.
2
Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA.
3
Department of Pathology, Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA.
4
United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, MA/CT/RI Program, Sutton, Massachusetts, USA.
5
United States Department of the Interior, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, Maryland, USA.
6
Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, Massachusetts, USA.
7
United States Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
8
Department of Computational and Systems Biology, Center for Vaccine Research, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
9
Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, Charles Perkins Centre, School of Biological Sciences and Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
10
Baker Institute for Animal Health, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.
11
United States Department of the Interior, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region, Division of Migratory Birds, Hadley, Massachusetts, USA.

Abstract

Since 1998, cyclic mortality events in common eiders (Somateria mollissima), numbering in the hundreds to thousands of dead birds, have been documented along the coast of Cape Cod, MA, USA. Although longitudinal disease investigations have uncovered potential contributing factors responsible for these outbreaks, detecting a primary etiological agent has proven enigmatic. Here, we identify a novel orthomyxovirus, tentatively named Wellfleet Bay virus (WFBV), as a potential causative agent of these outbreaks. Genomic analysis of WFBV revealed that it is most closely related to members of the Quaranjavirus genus within the family Orthomyxoviridae. Similar to other members of the genus, WFBV contains an alphabaculovirus gp64-like glycoprotein that was demonstrated to have fusion activity; this also tentatively suggests that ticks (and/or insects) may vector the virus in nature. However, in addition to the six RNA segments encoding the prototypical structural proteins identified in other quaranjaviruses, a previously unknown RNA segment (segment 7) encoding a novel protein designated VP7 was discovered in WFBV. Although WFBV shows low to moderate levels of sequence similarity to Quaranfil virus and Johnston Atoll virus, the original members of the Quaranjavirus genus, additional antigenic and genetic analyses demonstrated that it is closely related to the recently identified Cygnet River virus (CyRV) from South Australia, suggesting that WFBV and CyRV may be geographic variants of the same virus. Although the identification of WFBV in part may resolve the enigma of these mass mortality events, the details of the ecology and epidemiology of the virus remain to be determined.

IMPORTANCE:

The emergence or reemergence of viral pathogens resulting in large-scale outbreaks of disease in humans and/or animals is one of the most important challenges facing biomedicine. For example, understanding how orthomyxoviruses such as novel influenza A virus reassortants and/or mutants emerge to cause epidemic or pandemic disease is at the forefront of current global health concerns. Here, we describe the emergence of a novel orthomyxovirus, Wellfleet Bay virus (WFBV), which has been associated with cyclic large-scale bird die-offs in the northeastern United States. This initial characterization study provides a foundation for further research into the evolution, epidemiology, and ecology of newly emerging orthomyxoviruses, such as WFBV, and their potential impacts on animal and/or human health.

PMID:
25392223
PMCID:
PMC4300652
DOI:
10.1128/JVI.02019-14
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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