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Diarrhoea in bovine neonates is an economically devastating disease, which accounts for more than half of calf mortality (52 per cent) (National Animal Health Monitoring System; NAHMS). In addition to already existing viruses that cause gastrointestinal illness in calves, a newly emerging virus, picobirnavirus, has also started putting a burden on the young ones of human beings and pigs (Ganesh and others 2012). The picobirnaviruses are novel, small (‘pico’), non-enveloped, bisegmented (‘bi’) double-stranded RNA viruses, which have been placed in a new virus family Picobirnaviridae as per 9th report of The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) (http://www.ictvonline.org/virusTaxonomy.asp). Since its first detection in faecal specimens of human beings and black-footed pigmy rice rats (Oryzomys nigripes) in Brazil (Pereira and others 1988), the virus has been found in a wide range of domestic and captive animals, birds, reptiles, communal sewage and surface water. The known host range of these viruses has increased in recent years (Ganesh and others 2012).
The picobirnaviruses are classified into two genogroups, genogroup I (GG-I) and genogroup II (GG-II) based on the nucleotide and deduced amino acid differences in gene segment 2 encoding the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) (Rosen and others 2000, Bányai and others 2003, 2008). Of the two genogroups, the GG-II picobirnaviruses are identified on a less frequent basis than GG-I viruses. Unlike human and porcine picobirnaviruses, epidemiological studies for bovine picobirnaviruses are still in infancy; there are only four reports describing the presence of picobirnaviruses in the faeces of bovines; two from India (Ghosh and others 2009, Malik and others 2011), one from Brazil (Buzinaro and others 2003), and another from Belgium (Vanopdenbosch and Wellemans 1989 …
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