Encephalitis and retarded growth of chicks caused by Sitiawan virus, a new isolate belonging to the genus Flavivirus.

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  • 1 Veterinary Research Institute, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.

A new virus named Sitiawan virus (SV) was isolated from sick broiler chicks in chicken embryos. The virus replicated well with cytopathogenic effect (CPE) in the chicken B-lymphocyte cell line LSCC-BK3. The virus was an enveloped RNA virus of approximately 41 nm in size with hemagglutinating activity (HA) to goose erythrocytes. It was cross-reactive with Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a member of flaviviruses by HA inhibition tests but not by cross-virus neutralization tests. The cDNA fragment of NS5 gene was amplified with primers corresponding to NS5 gene of flaviviruses. The nucleotide sequences were 92% homologous to Tembusu virus, a member of the mosquito-borne virus cluster of the genus Flavivirus. In cross-neutralization tests with Tembusu virus, antiserum to SV did not neutralize Tembusu virus, and antiserum to Tembusu virus neutralized more weakly to SV than against homologous virus. These results indicate that SV is a new virus which can be differentiated serologically from Tembusu virus but is otherwise similar with respect to nucleotide sequence. The virus causes encephalitis, growth retardation, and increased blood glucose levels in inoculated chicks.