Investigations regarding European brown hare syndrome virus (EBHSV) in European brown hares (Lepus europaeus) in Slovakia were undertaken in order to detect the possible presence of EBHSV and to evaluate its phylogenetic position. Liver and/or serum samples were obtained from 135 European brown hares shot by hunters in eight regional hunting areas. From 36 animals corresponding liver and serum samples were available; from the remaining 49 and 50 animals only liver or serum samples were examined, respectively. Samples were tested for antibodies against EBHSV and for viral RNA by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and RT-PCR products were subsequently sequenced. Additionally, matrilinear hare haplotypes were analyzed in order to detect potential familial susceptibility to EBHSV. Sixty-three of 86 sera contained antibodies against EBHSV, whereas 15 of 85 liver samples were PCR positive. Of the latter, 14 were sequenced, revealing three new strains of EBHSV. Fifteen different matrilinear haplotypes were identified, but no correlation was found between haplotype and susceptibility to EBHSV infection. Our findings confirmed the existence of EBHSV in Slovakia and reinforce the need for determining EBHSV status when importing hares for restocking.
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Vol. 43 • No. 1