• Frequent presence of hepaci and pegiviruses in commercial equine serum pools.

      Postel, Alexander; Cavalleri, Jessika-M V; Pfaender, Stephanie; Walter, Stephanie; Steinmann, E; Fischer, Nicole; Feige, Karsten; Haas, Ludwig; Becher, Paul; Twincore Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, a joint venture between the Medical School Hanover and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Hanover, Germany. (2016-01-15)
      Novel viruses belonging to the genera Hepacivirus and Pegivirus have recently been discovered in horses and other animal species. Viral genomes of non-primate hepaciviruses (NPHV), equine pegivirus 1 (EPgV 1) and Theiler's disease associated virus (TDAV) were detected in a horse serum routinely used for cell culture propagation in our laboratory. Therefore, a study was carried out to further investigate the presence of these human Hepatitis C virus (HCV) related viruses in equine serum based products used in veterinary medicine and for research and to characterize the viral genomes. Without exception all commercially available equine sera purchased for cell culture propagation (n=6) were tested positive for NPHV, EPgV 1 or TDAV genomes by qRT-PCR. Molecular analyses of one single commercial horse serum from Europe confirmed multiple viral genomes, including two TDAV genomes significantly different from the only published TDAV sequence. Furthermore, multiple batches of horse serum pools (n=35) collected for manufacturing of biological products turned out to be positive for NPHV and EPgV 1 genomes. Nevertheless, the final commercial products (n=9) were exclusively tested qRT-PCR negative. Field samples (n=119) obtained from two premises located in the same region as the donor horses were analyzed, demonstrating the frequent presence of NPHV and EPgV 1, but the absence of TDAV genomes. The presence of NPHV, EPgV 1 and TDAV in commercial equine sera and serum based products could have considerable consequences for biosecurity and may also bias the outcome of research studies conducted with related viruses.