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Ljungan virus

The Ljungan virus is part of the Picornaviridae family. Various members of this family cause a variety of separate illnesses among both animals and humans. These illnesses range from asymptomatic infections, common colds and conjunctivitis to severe hepatitis, meningitis and paralysis. Poliovirus, which causes polio, is perhaps the best known member of the family.

Picornaviruses are small – “pico” means small. The virus particles are only 18-30 nm in diameter. The virus has a single stranded RNA genome of about 7000 base pairs. Compared to other viruses this is a relatively small genome.

Properties of the Ljungan Virus:
- The Ljungan virus is related to Parecho virus and Cardio virus. Parecho virus commonly causes respiratory infections, gastroenteritis and central nervous system (CNS) symptoms in humans.

- Cardio virus causes myocarditis in a wide range of animal species. In addition, it has been established that Cardio virus causes diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS) in laboratory mice. Pigs infected with Cardio virus suffer from pregnancy disorders.

- The transmission route(s) of the Ljungan virus are unknown, but preliminary studies indicate that it may be faecal –oral. This is a very common transmission route for other picorna viruses. The Ljungan virus biological and physiological properties make it very stable, a quality that is a distinguishing characteristic for viruses that are able to infect faecal-orally.

- Virus cultivation in tissue culture is a common method for diagnosing a viral infection. The Ljungan virus is difficult to grow in a laboratory cell cultures. This method is therefore rarely successful for diagnosing Ljungan virus infection.

- The Ljungan virus’ so called “2A gene” is doubled, which means that its gene pool is organised in a way that separates it from most other known picorna viruses.

The genome of three Swedish Ljungan virus isolates (called 87-012, 174F and 145SL) have been completely sequenced. This research has been performed by Professor Michael Lindberg and his colleagues at the University of Kalmar. In addition a Ljungan virus isolate from the USA has been identified and sequenced.

All sequences are available from open data bases, via the links
Ljunganvirus / sequences.