Different viruses belonging to the genus Vesivirus infect a broad range of animals, and cause gastroenteritis, vesicular skin lesions, hemorrhagic disease, respiratory diseases and other conditions. A recent report on Vesivirus viremia, as detected by PCR, in samples from patients with hepatitis of unknown etiology in the USA suggested a zoonotic potential for vesiviruses. These results have not been confirmed by another laboratory. In order to do so, a generic PCR assay on the RNA polymerase region was developed, and validated with RNA from 69 different Vesivirus species. Except SMSV serotype-8, all species tested were detected, including the ones that were suggested to be involved in zoonotic transmission in the USA (SMSV serotype-5). The generic Vesivirus assay was used on RNA extracted from serum samples from patients with hepatitis, stool samples from patients with gastroenteritis, throat-swab specimens of patients with rash illnesses, throat-swab and nose-swabs of patients with acute respiratory diseases, and cell cultures with cytopathologic effect from enterovirus surveillance in which no pathogen was found. None were found positive. In this study a generic Vesivirus assay was developed and it was concluded that vesiviruses are an unlikely cause of common illnesses in humans in the Netherlands.
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The authors thank Dr. Scott Reid, Dr. Karen Coyne, Dr. Vito Martella, and Dr. Masami Mochizuki for supplying the Vesivirus strains and Dr. Rob van Binnendijk, Dr. Adam Meijer, Dr. Berry Wilbrink, Dr. Harrie van Avoort for supplying the RNA from clinical samples. This work was supported financially by the European Commission, DG Research Quality of Life Program, 6th Framework (EVENT, SP22-CT-2004-502571).