Abstract This study reports the first conclusive evidence of zoonotic camelpox virus (CMLV) infection in humans associated with outbreaks in dromedarian camels (Camelus dromedaries) in northwest region of India during 2009. CMLV infection is usually restricted to camels and causes localised skin lesions but occasionally leads to generalised form of disease. However, the present outbreak involved camel handlers and attendants with clinical manifestations such as papules, vesicles, ulceration and finally scabs over fingers and hands. In camels, the pock-like lesions were distributed over the hairless parts of the body. On the basis of clinical and epidemiological features coupled with serological tests and molecular characterization of the causative agent, CMLV zoonosis was confirmed in three human cases. Clinical samples such as skin scabs/swabs and blood collected from affected animals and humans were analysed initially, for the presence of CMLV-specific antigen and antibodies by counter immunoelectrophoresis (CIE); serum neutralization test (SNT); plaque-reduction neutralization test (PRNT) and indirect immunoperoxidase test which was later confirmed by amplification of CMLV-specific ankyrin repeat protein (C18L) gene. Virus isolation was successful only from samples collected from camels. Further, sequence analyses based on three full-length envelope protein genes (A27L, H3L and D8L) revealed 95.2-99.8% and 93.1-99.3% homology with other Orthopoxviruses at nucleotide and amino acid levels, respectively. Phylogram of the three genes revealed a close relationship of CMLV with Variola virus (VARV). Considering the emerging and re-emerging nature of the virus, its genetic relatedness to VARV, zoonotic potential and productivity losses in camels; the control measures are imperative in curtailing economic and public health impact of the disease. This is the first instance of laboratory confirmed camelpox zoonosis in India.
B.C. Bera, K. Shanmugasundaram, Sanjay Barua, G. Venkatesan, Nitin Virmani, T. Riyesh, B.R. Gulati, V. Bhanuprakash, R.K. Vaid, N.K. Kakker, P. Malik, Manish Bansal, S. Gadvi, R.V. Singh, V. Yadav, Sardarilal, G. Nagarajan, V. Balamurugan, M. Hosamani, K.M.L. Pathak, R.K. Singh, Zoonotic cases of camelpox infection in India, Veterinary Microbiology, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 22 April 2011, ISSN 0378-1135, DOI: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2011.04.010.
Keywords: Camelpox virus; Zoonosis; Orthopoxvirus; Camel