Canine hepacivirus (CHV) belongs to the genus Hepacivirus, one of the four genera in the family Flaviviridae. These viruses are classified in three established genera (Flavivirus, Pestivirus, and Hepacivirus) and one proposed genus, Pegivirus. Comparative analysis has confirmed that canine hepacivirus is the closest genetic relative of hepatitis C virus (HCV) to date. The discovery of canine hepacivirus in dogs with respiratory disease is intriguing; however, a role for this novel virus in the cause and development of disease remains to be determined. There is no current risk that dogs can infect humans with either HCV or CHV because the dog disease does not infect the liver, and does not produce long-term or chronic infection.
Canine hepacivirus has recently been identified in liver and respiratory tract samples from dogs in rehoming centers in the USA. The dogs represented
5 different outbreaks of respiratory disease. Six canine hepacivirus-positive dogs were identified in one outbreak, and 3 were identified in a second outbreak in the same rehoming shelter 2 weeks later. The virus was also detected in the hepatocytes of liver samples from 5 unrelated dogs that died from unidentified gastrointestinal illness. Sequences similar to CHV were detected in horses in New York state and eight of the horses were found to have antibodies similar to the hepatitis C gene. Horses are probably the most likely non-human vector of a relative of the hepatitis C virus, but there is much to be learned in the short term from more extensive screening.
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Hepaciviruses were also detected in Norway rats in NYC. A bite from a Norway rat cannot transmit hepatitis C. A Norway rat might harbor a distant relative of the hepatitis C virus, but we don’t know yet if it is a reservoir. New hepaciviruses have been isolated from European bank voles and South African four-striped grass mice, although their ability to cause disease remains to be determined.
More about Canine Hepacivirus
- Characterization of a canine homolog of hepatitis C virus
- Nonprimate Hepaciviruses in Domestic Horses, United Kingdom
- Veterinary Pathology XX(X) 1-13. New and Emerging Pathogens in Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease
- Modeling HCV disease in animals: virology, immunology and pathogenesis of HCV and GBV-B infections