Identification and study of a poxvirus isolated from wild rodents in Turkmenia
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A new poxvirus was isolated in 1974 from the kidney of a wild big gerbil(Rhombomys opimus) caught in Turkmenia, where these gerbils are wide-spread. The virus resembles cowpox virus and is markedly different from the virus of infectious ectromelia, the best-known poxvirus of rodents. The new virus is apparently identical to other poxvirus isolates made from white rats andFelidae in the Moscow Zoo.
Experimental inoculation of the natural hosts—big gerbils and yellow susliks(Citellus fulvus)—produced a severe infection with a high mortality rate. Transmission of virus to uninoculated cage mates was shown to occur. Virus persisted in convalescent animals and was present in urine 3 weeks after inoculation and in kidney and testis for at least 5 weeks after inoculation.
The role of rodents as natural hosts of poxviruses is discussed.
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