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Novel Phlebovirus with Zoonotic Potential Isolated from Ticks, Australia - Volume 20, Number 6—June 2014 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC


Novel Phlebovirus with Zoonotic Potential Isolated from Ticks, Australia - Volume 20, Number 6—June 2014 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

link to Volume 20, Number 6—June 2014

Volume 20, Number 6—June 2014


Novel Phlebovirus with Zoonotic Potential Isolated from Ticks, Australia

Jianning Wang1, Paul Selleck1, Meng Yu1, Wendy Ha, Chrissy Rootes, Rosemary Gales, Terry Wise, Sandra Crameri, Honglei Chen, Ivano Broz, Alex Hyatt, Rupert Woods, Brian Meehan, Sam McCullough, and Lin-Fa WangComments to Author 
Author affiliations: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Geelong, Victoria, Australia (J. Wang, P. Selleck, M. Yu, W. Ha, C. Rootes, T. Wise, S. Crameri, H. Chen, I. Broz, A. Hyatt, B. Meehan, S. McCullough, L.-F. Wang);Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (R. Gales)Australian Wildlife Health Network, Mosman, New South Wales, Australia (R. Woods)Duke–National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School, Singapore (L.-F. Wang)


Recently discovered tick-borne phleboviruses have been associated with severe disease and death among persons in Asia and the United States. We report the discovery of a novel tick phlebovirus in Tasmania State, Australia, that is closely related to those zoonotic viruses found in Asia and North America.
Viruses in the family Bunyaviridae can infect animals and plants (1). The family is composed of 5 genera: OrthobunyavirusPhlebovirusNairovirusHantavirus, and Tospovirus (2). The genusPhlebovirus contains known disease agents of animals, including humans, that can be carried by different vectors (e.g., phlebotomine sandflies, mosquitoes, and ticks) (3). In 2009, an outbreak of an acute febrile illness, known as severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS), occurred in China. During an investigation of the outbreak, a previously unknown bunyavirus from the tick Haemaphysalis longicornis was identified as the causative agent of SFTS (4). SFTS virus (SFTSV) has since been shown to be responsible for >150 human infections in 16 Chinese provinces and to have an associated death rate of ≈12% (5,6).
In June 2009, in northwestern Missouri, United States, 2 men from 2 geographically distant farms were hospitalized for fever, fatigue, diarrhea, thrombocytopenia, and leukopenia. Both men had been bitten by ticks 5–7 days before the onset of symptoms. A virus was isolated from the leukocytes of each patient and later identified as a novel phlebovirus by next-generation sequencing. The 2 viruses were highly related (98%, 95%, and 99% sequence identity for the small, medium, and large viral genome segments, respectively), indicating that the men were independently infected with the same virus. This new virus, named Heartland virus (HRTV), was most closely related to, but clearly distinct from, the SFTSV detected in China (7).
Subsequent to these disease events in China and the United States, fatal SFTSV infections were reported in humans in Japan (8) and Korea (9). Because similar viruses and human infections have been detected in 2 well-separated continents (i.e., Asia and North America), it is tempting to hypothesize that similar viruses may also exist in tick populations on other continents. We report the isolation and characterization of a phlebovirus from ticks in Australia that is similar to SFTSV and HRTV.

Dr Wang is a research scientist in charge of the molecular diagnostics group at CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory. His research interests include novel molecular diagnostics and pathogen discovery.


We thank Richmond Loh for providing diagnostic samples, Ian Beveridge for help with tick species identification, and Mary Tachedjian and Volker Haring for technical advice on next-generation sequencing data analysis.


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Suggested citation for this article: Wang J, Selleck P, Yu M, Ha W, Rootes C, Gales R, et al. Novel phlebovirus with zoonotic potential isolated from ticks, Australia. Emerg Infect Dis. 2014 June (date cited). Web Site Icon
DOI: 10.3201/eid2006.140003
1These authors contributed equally to this article.

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