Evidence for human norovirus infection of dogs in the UK

Caddy, S L and De Rougemont, A and Emmott, E and El-Attar, L M R and Mitchell, J A and Hollinshead, M and Belliot, G and Brownlie, J and Le Pendu, J and Goodfellow, I (2015) Evidence for human norovirus infection of dogs in the UK. JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY, 53 (6). pp. 1873-1883.

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Abstract

Human noroviruses (HuNoVs) are a major cause of viral gastroenteritis, with an estimated 3 million cases per year in the United Kingdom. HuNoVs have recently been isolated from pet dogs in Europe (M. Summa, C.-H. von Bonsdorff, and L. Maunula, J Clin Virol 53:244–247, 2012, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcv.2011.12.014), raising concerns about potential zoonotic infections. With 31% of United Kingdom households owning a dog, this could prove to be an important transmission route. To examine this risk, canine tissues were studied for their ability to bind to HuNoV in vitro. In addition, canine stool samples were analyzed for the presence of viral nucleic acid, and canine serum samples were tested for the presence of anti-HuNoV antibodies. The results showed that seven different genotypes of HuNoV virus-like particles (VLPs) can bind to canine gastrointestinal tissue, suggesting that infection is at least theoretically possible. Although HuNoV RNA was not identified in stool samples from 248 dogs, serological evidence of previous exposure to HuNoV was obtained in 43/325 canine serum samples. Remarkably, canine seroprevalence for different HuNoV genotypes mirrored the seroprevalence in the human population. Though entry and replication within cells have not been demonstrated, the canine serological data indicate that dogs produce an immune response to HuNoV, implying productive infection. In conclusion, this study reveals zoonotic implications for HuNoV, and to elucidate the significance of this finding, further epidemiological and molecular investigations will be essential.