Journal of clinical microbiology

Neurotropic astrovirus in cattle with nonsuppurative encephalitis in Europe.

PMID 24989603


Encephalitis is a frequently diagnosed condition in cattle with neurological diseases. Many affected animals present with a nonsuppurative inflammatory reaction pattern in the brain. While this pattern supports a viral etiology, the causative pathogen remains unknown in a large proportion of cases. Using viral metagenomics, we identified an astrovirus (bovine astrovirus [BoAstV]-CH13) in the brain of a cow with nonsuppurative encephalitis. Additionally, BoAstV RNA was detected with reverse transcription-PCR and in situ hybridization in about one fourth (5/22 animals) of cattle with nonsuppurative encephalitis of unknown etiology. Viral RNA was found primarily in neurons and at the site of pathology. These findings support the notion that BoAstV infection is a common cause of encephalitis in cattle. Phylogenetically, BoAstV-CH13 was closely related to rare astrovirus isolates from encephalitis cases in animals and a human patient. Future research needs to be directed toward the pathogenic mechanisms, epidemiology, and potential cross-species transmission of these neurotropic astroviruses.

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