Molecular detection and phylogenetic analysis of tick-borne phleboviruses from ticks infesting cattle in southern province, Zambia.
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Although novel tick-borne pathogens have emerged to cause severe disease in humans in many parts of the world, information on tick-borne viruses is scanty in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The Shibuyunji virus, a novel tick-borne phlebovirus (TBPV) was recently identified in ticks in Zambia. To gain insights into the prevalence, distribution, and genetic diversity of TBPVs in Zambia, 363 ticks infesting cattle were collected from Namwala and Livingstone districts in Southern Province and screened for TBPVs RT-PCR. The L-gene of TBPVs was detected by PCR from 19 (5.2%) Rhipicephalus ticks in Namwala District and confirmed by sequence analysis. Shibuyunji virus was the only TBPV detected. The detected isolates at the nucleotide, and amino acid level shared 92.8-100% and 98.1-100% similarity, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the Shibuyunji viruses detected in Zambia were closely related to American dog tick phlebovirus and formed a well bootstrap-supported distinct cluster. This study highlights the possible role of Rhipicephalus ticks as the potential host for the Shibuyunji virus and that this virus may be present outside the area of initial discovery. Furthermore, the study stresses the need for more studies to be conducted to assess the potential impact of TBPVs on animal and human health.
The University of Zambia