Virus Believed To Cause Equine Liver Disease Found To Be Innocuous

Theiler’s disease, which has been recognized in horses for the last 100 years, has long been believed to cause transmissible hepatitis, though the pathogen that causes it has never been identified. New research shows that the virus originally blamed for causing liver disease doesn’t appear to be the cause at all–and that the suspected virus is virtually harmless.

Researchers discovered two novel equine pegiviruses (EPgV); EPgV-1 was not associated with disease and the other was identified as the cause of an outbreak of serum hepatitis in horses. That specific EPgV was dubbed Theiler’s disease-associated virus (TDAV).

Drs. Joy Tomlinson ,Raphael Wolfisberg, Ulrik Fahnøe, Himanshu Sharma, Randall Renshaw, Louise Nielsen, Eiko Nishiuchi, Christina Holm, Edward Dubovi, Brad Rosenberg, Bud Tennant, Jens Bukh,Amit Kapoor,Thomas Divers, Charles Rice, Gerlinde Van de Walle, Troels Scheel used more than 20 types of tissue from horses being screened for the viruses to learn more about EPgV-1.

They found high viral loads in bone marrow, serum and the spleen; some lymph nodes and blood cells were positive, but liver tissue was not. The researchers concluded that the equine pegiviruses cause infections in horses, but not hepatitis. Bone marrow was identified as the primary site of replication for both viruses.

The researchers also noted that a newly discovered parvovirus seems to be responsible for multiple equine Theiler’s disease cases.

Read more at HorseTalk.

Read the study here.

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