Non-primate Hepaciviruses in Egyptian Equids

Equine hepacivirus (EqHV) is one of the non-primate hepaciviruses recently discovered in the Americas, Europe and Asia. It is a hepatotropic member of the genus hepacivirus of Flaviviridae. They are close relatives of hepatitis C virus. Information on EqHV epidemiology, pathogenesis and genetic diversity is limited. Information regarding prevalence and distribution of NPHV in Egyptian equids does not exist. In research conducted in collaboration with the NS3-specific RT-PCR was used to investigate whether EqHV RNA was present in 436 archival equid serum samples collected from 5 Egyptian governorates. Of the tested samples, 323 were from Arabian horses (Equus caballus), 28 were from draft horses and, 85 were from donkeys (Equus asinus). EqHV sequences were detected in 10 horses and 2 donkey samples (2.75%). Detection rates were 7.01% (4/57) and 2.11% (8/379) in samples collected during 2015 and 2017, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis based on partial NS3 sequences placed the detected EqHV sequences into two different lineages. Taken together, the data suggests that the circulating viruses may have been introduced during two separate events.

This research was done in collaboration with Prof. Mohamed Galal Aggour, Dr. Ayah Muhammed Hasan, Prof. Naglaa M. Hagag and Prof.  Momtaz Abdelhady Shahein of Animal Health Research Institute, Egypt, Dr. Ahmed Ismail Elsayed Abdelhameed and Prof. Mohamed Saed Mohamed El-Shahidy of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Suez Canal University and, Prof. Falko Steinbach of the Department of Pathology and Infectious Diseases, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom.