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Full genome sequences are key to disclose RHDV2 emergence in the Macaronesian islands


A recent publication by Carvalho et al. in “Virus Genes” (June 2017) reported the presence of the new variant of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV2) in the two larger islands of the archipelago of Madeira. Based on the capsid protein sequence, the authors suggested that the high sequence identity, along with the short time spanning between outbreaks, points to dissemination from Porto Santo to Madeira. By including information of the full RHDV2 genome of strains from Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands, we confirm the results obtained by Carvalho et al., but further show that several subtypes of RHDV2 circulate in these islands: non-recombinant RHDV2 in the Canary Islands, G1/RHDV2 in Azores, Porto Santo and Madeira, and NP/RHDV2 also in Madeira. Here we conclude that RHDV2 has been independently introduced in these archipelagos, and that in Madeira at least two independent introductions must have occurred. We provide additional information on the dynamics of RHDV2 in the Macaronesian archipelagos of Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands and highlight the importance of analyzing RHDV2 complete genome.

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The authors are grateful to Michael Sicilia from Federación Insular de Caza de La Palma, to Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza, and to Direção Regional dos Recursos Florestais for assistance with sampling logistics in La Palma, Madeira, and Azores, respectively. Especially, the authors would like to thank hunters from Madeira and Azores for collaborating in sample collection (Artur Santos, João Santos, José Vieira, Ruben Brito, José Brito, Américo Rodrigues, Gregório Pestana, and Luís Vieira from Madeira and Manuel Humberto Rodrigues from Azores). Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) supported the Post-doc Grant of AML (SFRH/BPD/115211/2016) and the FCT Investigator grants of PJE (IF/00376/2015) and JA (IF/01396/2013). The work was partially funded by Excmo. Cabildo Insular Tenerife.

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Correspondence to Pedro J. Esteves.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Edited by Joachim Jakob Bugert.

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Lopes, A.M., Blanco-Aguiar, J., Martín-Alonso, A. et al. Full genome sequences are key to disclose RHDV2 emergence in the Macaronesian islands. Virus Genes 54, 1–4 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11262-017-1523-2

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  • RHDV2
  • Macaronesian islands
  • Introduction
  • Recombination
  • Full genome