Biological and Antigenic Characterization of Netivot Virus, an Unusual New Orbivirus Recovered from Mosquitoes in Israel

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  • * Yale Arborvirus Research Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
  • | ** Kuvin Centre for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
  • | Department of Biology, Center for Biological Control, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

The antigenic and biological characteristics of a new Orbivirus, designated Netivot virus, are described. This agent was originally recovered in cultures of the C6/36 clone of Aedes albopictus cells from a pool of Culex pipiens captured in Israel. Netivot virus is not pathogenic for newborn mice, nor did it initially produce detectable cytopathic effect (CPE) in Vero cells. It is closely related antigenically to Umatilla and Llano Seco viruses; these 3 agents appear to constitute a new serogroup within the genus Orbivirus. Netivot virus is also more distantly related to a number of other orbiviruses in the blue-tongue, epizootic hemorrhagic disease of deer, and Eubenangee serogroups. Netivot virus replicated to high titer and produced CPE in a variety of mosquito cell cultures, but it did not grow in 2 sand fly cell lines. Inoculation of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus with Netivot virus resulted in almost 100% mortality in both species within 15 days after infection. The recovery of this and a number of other yet unidentified viral agents from field-collected mosquitoes in cultures of C6/36 cells, but not in the conventional vertebrate assay systems, suggests the existence in nature of many yet unrecognized mosquito-associated viruses. It also demonstrates the value of using new isolation methods in arbovirus studies.