Borna disease virus: a UK perspective
Borna Disease Virus (BDV) is a single stranded, negative sense, RNA virus and the pathogenic agent of Borna Disease (BD). BD was first described as a disease of horses and sheep, however, it has now has been recognised to cause a persistent infection that leads to neurological and behavioural disturbances in a wide range of hosts, including humans. BDV has been reported in most countries, including most of central Europe, North America, East Africa, East Asia and Australia. However, reports of the incidence and prevalence in both animals and humans in the UK are limited.This study investigated the prevalence of BDV in both human and horse populations in the UK using a range of serological and molecular methods. 528 human samples (95 patients with mood disorders, 32 healthy individuals in close contact with psychiatric patients and 401 blood donors) and 274 horse samples were screened. The results show that BDV is present in both horses with a seroprevalence of 13 %. For humans in the UK a significantly higher proportion of mood disorder patients (29 %) and healthy individuals in close contact with psychiatric patients (28 %) were seropositive for BDV as compared to normal blood donors (17 %), x2 = 8.418 p= 0.015, in this study.From a public point of view, this data is important as it suggests that BDV may be transmitted from psychiatric patients to healthy individuals who are in close contact with them, although it must be stressed that this study only investigated a small number of individuals. Thus a detailed sero-epidemiological study of BDV prevalence in the UK is needed to determine the distribution of this important human virus.