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Bungowannah virus – a probable new species of pestivirus – what have we found in the last 10 years?

  • P. D. Kirkland (a1), A. J. Read (a1), M. J. Frost (a1) and D. S. Finlaison (a1)


Bungowannah virus was discovered following an outbreak of stillbirths and sudden death in young pigs. Affected animals consistently showed a myocardopathy with signs of cardiac failure. After virus isolation and PCR investigations were unsuccessful, direct fetal inoculation was undertaken. Nucleic acid purified from serum from infected fetuses was subjected to sequence-independent single-primer amplification and nucleic acid sequencing. Sequences consistent with a pestivirus were obtained. The entire genome was identified but was genetically remote from the recognized pestivirus species. This virus was not recognized by pan-pestivirus reactive monoclonal antibodies but was subsequently detected in cell cultures by immunoperoxidase staining using convalescent sow serum. Experimental infections of sows at different stages of gestation reproduced the myocarditis syndrome. Pre-weaning losses of 70 and 29% were observed following infection at days 35 and 90, respectively. Piglets infected at day 35 were shown to be persistently infected, while chronic infections were observed after fetal infection at day 55. Chronically infected piglets showed growth retardation and were viremic for up to 7 months. Myocarditis was associated with infection in late gestation (day 90). Non-pregnant sheep and cattle have been experimentally infected but with no evidence of disease. Infection of pregnant cattle in early gestation resulted in both maternal and fetal infection, but all infected fetuses mounted an antibody response to the virus. Analysis of the nucleic acid sequence confirmed that Bungowannah has a number of changes not observed in other pestiviruses. Genes encoding some of the structural proteins remain fully functional when inserted into a bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) backbone. Cell culture-based studies have shown that Bungowannah virus will grow in cells extending from humans to bats as well as farm animals.


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Finlaison, DS (2010). Studies of the porcine myocarditis syndrome. PhD Thesis, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Finlaison, DS, King, KR, Frost, MJ and Kirkland, PD (2009). Field and laboratory evidence that Bungowannah virus, a recently recognised pestivirus, is the causative agent of the porcine myocarditis syndrome (PMC). Veterinary Microbiology 136: 259265.
Finlaison, DS, Cook, RW, Srivastava, M, Frost, MJ, King, KR and Kirkland, PD (2010). Experimental infections of the porcine foetus with Bungowannah virus, a novel pestivirus. Veterinary Microbiology 144: 3240.
Finlaison, DS, King, KR, Gabor, M and Kirkland, PD (2012). An experimental study of Bungowannah virus infection in weaner aged pigs. Veterinary Microbiology 160: 245250.
Kirkland, PD, Frost, MJ, Finlaison, DS, King, KR, Ridpath, JF and Gu, X (2007). Identification of a novel virus in pigs – Bungowannah virus: a possible new species of pestivirus. Virus Research 129: 2634.
Kirkland, PD, Frost, MJ, King, KR, Finlaison, DS, Hornitzky, CL, Richter, M, Reimann, I, Dauber, M, Schirrmeier, H, Beer, M and Ridpath, JF (2014). Genetic and antigenic characterisation of Bungowannah virus, a novel pestivirus. Veterinary Microbiology (submitted)
McOrist, S, Thornton, E, Peake, A, Walker, R, Robson, S, Finlaison, D, Kirkland, P, Reece, R, Ross, A, Walker, K, Hyatt, A and Morrissy, C (2004). An infectious myocarditis syndrome affecting late-term and neonatal piglets. Australian Veterinary Journal 82: 509511.
Read, AJ, Finlaison, DS, Frost, MJ, King, KR, Gu, X and Kirkland, PD (2011). Bungowannah virus – a novel pestivirus of pigs. Is it a threat to other species? In: 8th ESVV Pestivirus Symposium, 25–28 September 2011, Hannover, Germany.
Richter, M, Reimann, I, Wegelt, A, Kirkland, PD and Beer, M (2011). Trans-complementation studies with the novel “Bungowannah” virus support the classification into the genus pestivirus and provide new insights in the compatibility of pestivirus proteins. Virology 418: 113122.
Richter, M, Konig, P, Reimann, I and Beer, M (2014). Npro of Bungowannah virus exhibits the same antagonistic function in the IFN induction pathway than that of other classical pestiviruses. Veterinary Microbiology 168: 340347.


Bungowannah virus – a probable new species of pestivirus – what have we found in the last 10 years?

  • P. D. Kirkland (a1), A. J. Read (a1), M. J. Frost (a1) and D. S. Finlaison (a1)


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