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New Virus Found in a Pig Officially Named Influenza D

8 September 2016, at 12:00am

US - The executive committee of the International Committee of Taxonomy of Viruses has approved the naming of a new virus as influenza D.

The committee officially announced a new genus, Orthomyxovirdae, with a single species, Influenza D virus, because of its distinctness from other influenza types—A, B and C.

The virus was first discovered by South Dakota State University researcher Ben Hause back in 2011 when he isolated the virus from a diseased pig.

He later found that cattle were the primary reservoir for influenza D and identified and characterised the new virus as part of his doctoral research under professor Feng Li's tutelage.

This is the first influenza virus identified in cattle, Dr Li explained. “This contribution was made in South Dakota and our theory has been confirmed independently by other research groups.”

The goal is now to determine whether influenza D, which has 50 per cent similarity to human influenza C, can cause problems in humans, according to Radhey Kaushik, professor and assistant head of the biology and microbiology department.

However, he noted: “The virus has not been shown to be pathogenic in humans. No one should be afraid of this.”

The research group showed that influenza D is spread only through direct contact and proved a guinea pig can be used as an animal model to study the virus. Influenza D antibodies have been identified in blood samples from sheep and goats, but the virus does not affect poultry.

Studies are underway to compare the virulence among the bovine and swine influenza D strains and human influenza C using the guinea pig model.

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