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PLoS One. 2016 May 16;11(5):e0155662. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155662. eCollection 2016.

First Description of Hepacivirus and Pegivirus Infection in Domestic Horses in China: A Study in Guangdong Province, Heilongjiang Province and Hong Kong District.

Lu G1,2, Sun L1,2, Xu T1,2, He D1,2, Wang Z1,2, Ou S1,2, Jia K1,2, Yuan L1,2, Li S1,2.

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College of Veterinary Medicine, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, P. R. China.
Key Laboratory of Comprehensive Prevention and Control for Severe Clinical Animal Diseases of Guangdong Province, Guangzhou, P. R. China.


Since 2012, three viruses, known as equine hepacivirus (EqHV), equine pegivirus (EPgV) and Theiler's disease-associated virus (TDAV), have been discovered in equines. Given that these viruses are the newest members of the Flaviviridae family, genomic information concerning circulating EqHV, EPgV and TDAV strains around the world is limited. To date, no genetic surveillance studies have been performed on these three viruses in the equine population of China. Here, a total of 177 serum samples were collected from equines across China between 2014 and 2015. Using PCR, we detected viral RNA in the serum samples, six of which were EqHV positive and two of which were EPgV positive. Co-infection with the two viruses was not observed among the Chinese equines studied, and TDAV RNA was not detected in the equine serum samples collected for this study. Phylogenetic analysis of partial NS5B open reading frame (ORF), NS3 ORF, and 5' untranslated region nucleotide sequences from EqHV as well as partial NS3 ORF sequence from EPgV indicated that EqHV and EPgV have evolved into two main clades by themselves, both of which are circulating in China. Based on the partial NS5B and NS3 ORF sequences of EqHV, the sequences of one clade were also split into two subclades. This study enriches our knowledge of the geographic distribution of these three equine viruses.

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