Argentinean researchers have identified the first equine cases of neurological disease caused by Bunyamwera virus (BUNV).
An emerging cause of disease in humans and ruminants, BUNV is typically transmitted by mosquitoes. The BUNV family of viruses includes more than 300 different strains, all of which can exchange genetic material to produce new pathogens.
Until now there had been no reports in the scientific literature of BUNV causing neurological disease in horses. But researchers at the National University of Cordoba and The National University of the Littoral found new isolates of the virus in the brains of three horses who died of encephalitis (swelling of the brain), in the Santa Fe region of Argentina.
Although BUNV is relatively rare, the researchers note that this finding underscores the potential threat to equine health as new strains emerge.
Reference: “First isolation of Bunyamwera virus (Bunya-viridae family) from horses with neurological disease and an abortion in Argentina,” The Veterinary Journal, June 2015
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #457, October 2015.