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Susceptibility of Spotted Doves (Streptopelia chinensis) to Experimental Infection with the SFTS Phlebovirus

By Zhifeng Li, Changjun Bao, Jianli Hu, Chengfeng Gao, Nan Zhang, Huo Xiang, Carol J Cardona, Zheng Xing

Posted 08 Nov 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/466094

Abstract Background: Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV), an emerging human pathogen naturally transmitted by ticks, has spread widely during the last few years. Although SFTSV has been detected in wild birds, the natural reservoir and amplifying hosts for the virus have not been well-studied. Methodology/Principle Findings: Here we report an experimental infection of spotted doves (Streptopelia chinensis) with two strains of SFTSV, JS2010-14 (hereafter JS2010), a Chinese lineage strain and JS2014-16 (JS2014) from a Japanese lineage, which represent the main viral genotypes currently circulating in East Asia. We determined that spotted doves were susceptible to SFTSV and the severity of the viremia was dose-dependent. When challenged with 107 and 105 PFU, all doves developed viremia which peaked 3-5 days post-infection (dpi). A subset (25-62.5%) of the birds challenged at 103 PFU, developed viremia. Virulence of SFTSV in spotted doves appeared to be strain-dependent. Infection with the strain of JS2014 led to a death rate of 12.5% and higher viremia titers in experimentally inoculated birds. The doves inoculated with the JS2010 strain survived infection with relatively lower virus titers in the blood. Conclusions/Significance: Our results suggest that spotted doves, one of the most abundant bird species in China, could be a competent amplifying host of SFTSV, the strain of the Japanese lineage in particular, with higher viremia titers and play an important role in the transmission of SFTSV. Our observations shed light on the ecology of SFTSV which could benefit the implementation of future surveillance and control programs.

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