Rustrela Virus Infection – A New Emerging Neuropathogen of Red-necked
Wallabies ( Macropus rufogriseus)
The rustrela virus (RusV) was recently described as a novel pathogen in
a circumscribed area of northern Germany close to the Baltic Sea. Up to
now, the virus has been detected in cases of fatal non-suppurative
meningoencephalitis in zoo animals of different species and a single
wild carnivore as well as in apparently healthy yellow-necked field mice
( Apodemus flavicollis). Data regarding the background of this
previously undiscovered pathogen, including clinical presentation of the
disease, host range, and distribution of the virus, are still limited.
Here, three euthanized red-necked wallabies ( Macropus
rufogriseus) from zoos of different areas in northeastern Germany were
submitted for necropsy after presenting with apathy and therapeutically
unresponsive neurological symptoms. A moderate to severe,
non-suppurative meningoencephalitis was diagnosed in all three cases.
RusV was consistently detected via RT-qPCR and RNA in situ
hybridization in the brains of all wallabies. Other, commonly known
neuropathogens could not be detected. Overall, red-necked wallabies
appear to be highly susceptible to RusV as novel neuropathogen, which is
broader distributed in northeastern Germany.