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Prevalence and Molecular Analysis of Encephalomyocarditis Virus-2 in the Hazel Dormouse

Gibson, L; Shadbolt, T; Paul, P; Gerard, G; Wrigglesworth, E; Sainsbury, AW; Donald, H; Jaffe, JE; Januszczak, I; Fitzpatrick, LD; Burrell, C; Davies, H; Dastjerdi, A; Spiro, S


L Gibson

T Shadbolt

P Paul

G Gerard

E Wrigglesworth

AW Sainsbury

H Donald

JE Jaffe

I Januszczak

LD Fitzpatrick

C Burrell

H Davies

A Dastjerdi

S Spiro


The hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) population in the UK continues to decline due to habitat loss, despite reintroductions of captive-bred individuals being conducted nationally for over 30 years. Disease surveillance of captive-bred and wild dormice is performed to identify novel and existing disease threats which could impact populations. In this study, we firstly investigated cause of death in seven hazel dormice found dead in England, through next-generation sequencing identifying a virus closely related to a wood mouse encephalomyocarditis virus-2 (EMCV-2). Subsequently, lung tissue samples from 35 out of 44 hazel dormice tested positive for EMCV-2 RNA using a reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and Sanger sequencing methods developed in this study. Formalin-fixed tissues available for nine hazel dormice which tested positive for EMCV-2 RNA were examined microscopically. Three cases showed moderate interstitial pneumonia with minimal to mild lymphoplasmacytic myocarditis, but no evidence of encephalitis. However, the presence of possible alternative causes of death in these cases means that the lesions cannot be definitively attributed to EMCV-2. Here, we report the first detection of EMCV-2 in hazel dormice and conclude that EMCV-2 is likely to be endemic in the hazel dormouse population in England and may be associated with clinical disease.


Gibson, L., Shadbolt, T., Paul, P., Gerard, G., Wrigglesworth, E., Sainsbury, A., …Spiro, S. (2024). Prevalence and Molecular Analysis of Encephalomyocarditis Virus-2 in the Hazel Dormouse. Eco Health,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 18, 2024
Online Publication Date Apr 23, 2024
Publication Date 2024
Deposit Date Apr 30, 2024
Print ISSN 1612-9210
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Encephalomyocarditis virus; EMCV-2; Cardiovirus; Hazel dormouse; Muscardinus avellanarius; PATHOGENESIS

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