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Further Evidence for in Utero Transmission of Equine Hepacivirus to Foals

Abstract : (1) Background: Equine hepacivirus (EqHV), also referred to as non-primate hepacivirus (NPHV), infects horses—and dogs in some instances—and is closely related to hepatitis C virus (HCV) that has infected up to 3% of the world’s human population, causing an epidemic of liver cirrhosis and cancer. EqHV also chronically infects the liver of horses, but does not appear to cause serious liver damages. Previous studies have been looking to identify route(s) of EqHV transmission to and between horses. (2) Methods: In this retrospective study, we sought to evaluate the prevalence of vertical transmission taking place in utero with measuring by quantitative RT-PCR the amounts of EqHV genome in samples from 394 dead foals or fetuses, paired with the allantochorion whenever available. (3) Results: Detection of EqHV in three foals most likely resulted from a vertical transmission from the mares to the fetuses, consistent with the in utero transmission hypothesis. In support of this observation, the presence of EqHV genome was found for the first time in two of the allantochorions. (4) Conclusions: As seemingly benign viruses could turn deadly (e.g., Zika flavivirus) and EqHV happens to have infected a significant proportion of the world’s horse herds, EqHV infectious cycle should be further clarified.
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Stéphane Pronost, Christine Fortier, Christel Marcillaud-Pitel, Jackie Tapprest, Marc Foursin, et al.. Further Evidence for in Utero Transmission of Equine Hepacivirus to Foals. Viruses, MDPI, 2019, 11 (12), pp.1124. ⟨10.3390/v11121124⟩. ⟨hal-02417668⟩

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