Researchers from Germany and the United States report the discovery of the first insect-associated nidovirus, which they have tentatively named Cavally virus (CAVV), during a survey of mosquito-associated viruses in Cote d'Ivoire. CAVV was found with a prevalence of 9.3 percent.
CAVV is the first representative of a family of nidoviruses that is distinct from the established Arteriviridae, Roniviridae and Coronaviridae families. No other nidoviruses are known to live in an insect.
Nidoviruses are known for causing severe disease in livestock, but until the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) were thought to only cause relatively mild diseases in humans, like the common cold. It is unclear whether CAVV causes disease in humans or animals or is exclusive to mosquitoes.
In a population study of CAVV in its natural habitat, the authors isolated the virus from several species of mosquitoes and tracked its prevalence and genomic diversity across a gradient of environmental disturbance, ranging from undisturbed primary forest to plantations and human settlements. The virus was found in all habitat types, and as disturbance increased, so did the prevalence of the virus: the virus was most prevalent in human settlements.
The research was published in American Society for Microbiologys journal, mBio.