Equine encephalosis (EE) is an arthropod-borne, noncontagious, febrile disease of horses. It is caused by EE virus (EEV), an Orbivirus of the Reoviridae family transmitted by Culicoides. Within the EEV serogroup, seven serotypes (EEV-1–7) have been identified to date. This virus was first isolated from a horse in South Africa in 1967 and until 2008 was believed to be restricted to southern Africa. In 2008–2009, isolation of EEV in an outbreak reported from Israel demonstrated the emergence of this pathogen into new niches. Indeed, testing in retrospect sera samples revealed that EEV had already been circulating outside of South Africa since 2001. Although EEV normally does not cause severe clinical disease, it should be considered important since it may indicate the possible spread of other related, much more pathogenic viruses, such as African horse sickness virus (AHSV). The spread of EEV from South Africa to central Africa, the Middle East and India is an example of the possible emergence of new pathogens in new niches, as was seen in the case of West Nile virus, and should be a reminder not to limit the differential list when facing a possible outbreak or a cluster of clinical cases. This review summarizes current knowledge regarding EEV structure, pathogenesis, clinical significance, and epidemiology.
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- Clinical disease
- Equine encephalosis virus