Da Rold et al.
Clinical tick-borne encephalitis in a roe deer (Capreolus capreolus L.)
Viruses 2022, 14, 300. doi: 10.3390/v14020300

TBE virus infections in mammals are not rare, but in most cases no significant clinical symptoms in these animals occur. Some exceptions have been described and discussed earlier in the TBE News (e.g., during the last two years: Snapshot 46/2021: dogs; Snapshot 40/2021: horses, Snapshot 34/2021: bisons, Snapshot 17/2021: sheep and goats, Snapshot 8/2021: horses, Snapshot 41/2020: ducks, Snapshot 7/2020: goats, Snapshot 4/2020: wild ungulates.

Recently, a team of Italian scientists have reported a rare case of TBE in a roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in Belluno, a province in north-eastern Italy.

The roe deer was found with severe neurological signs; thus, it was decided to cull this animal and to carry out a post-mortem examination.

Molecular investigations performed on the brain yielded positive results for TBE virus. Analyses of the whole genome sequence of the isolate showed a high similarity to a strain of European subtype isolated in southern Germany from ticks. Histological examinations of the midbrain showed multifocal encephalitis. Moreover, gliosis, neuronal chromatolysis and rare microglial nodules were observed in the grey matter.

In general, it is believed that roe deer do not play a significant role in the maintenance of TBE virus, because generally the level of viremia is too low to infect ticks. However, roe deer play a role in the TBE virus ecology being a key host in granting survival and abundance of tick populations

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