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Identification and molecular characterization of novel viruses in Ugandan cattle.
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  • Lawrence Mugisha,
  • Stephen Balinandi,
  • Juliette Hayer,
  • Harindranath Cholleti,
  • Michelle Wille,
  • Julius J. Lutwama,
  • Maja Malmberg
Lawrence Mugisha
Makerere University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Stephen Balinandi
Uganda Virus Research Institute
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Juliette Hayer
Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet Biblioteket Uppsala
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Harindranath Cholleti
Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet Biblioteket Uppsala
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Michelle Wille
The University of Sydney School of Medical Sciences
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Julius J. Lutwama
Uganda Virus Research Institute
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Maja Malmberg
Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet Biblioteket Uppsala
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Abstract

The risk for the emergence of novel viral zoonotic diseases in Uganda is high due to favourable climatic conditions, high biodiversity, and attendant anthropogenic factors, thus warranting a broad investigation of potential disease-causing agents in animals. In this study, we aimed to identify and characterize viruses in blood samples from cattle from five selected districts of Uganda (Kasese, Hoima, Gulu, Soroti and Moroto), using both pan-PCR and metagenomic RNA sequencing approaches. From a total of 175 blood samples, we identified 8 viral species belonging to 4 families ( Flaviviridae, Peribunyaviridae, Reoviridae and Rhabdoviridae) and 6 genera ( Hepacivirus, Pestivirus, Orthobunyavirus, Coltivirus, Dinovernavirus and Ephemerovirus). Four of the identified viruses were novel and have been tetantively named as Zikole virus (Family: Flaviviridae), Zeboroti virus (Family: Reoviridae), Zebtine virus (Family: Rhabdoviridae) and Kokolu virus (Family: Rhabdoviridae). In addition, Bovine hepacivirus, Obodhiang virus and Schmallenberg virus were detected for the first time in Ugandan cattle. We also identified Aedes pseudoscutellaris reovirus, a hitherto insect-specific virus, in animals from Kasese and Hoima districts, respectively. Our findings reveal that cattle in Uganda harbor a broad range of viruses including novel viruses of unknown zoonotic potential. These results highlight potential serious implications for the management of animal health and their productivity while protecting the public from risks of zoonotic disease transmission.