Identification of a ruminant origin group b rotavirus associated with diarrhea outbreaks in foals

Tirth Uprety, Chithra C. Sreenivasan, Ben M. Hause, Ganwu Li, Solomon O. Odemuyiwa, Stephan Locke, Jocelynn Morgan, Li Zeng, William F. Gilsenan, Nathan Slovis, Laurie Metcalfe, Craig N. Carter, Peter Timoney, David Horohov, Dan Wang, Erdal Erol, Emma Adam, Feng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Equine rotavirus group A (ERVA) is one of the most common causes of foal diarrhea. Starting in February 2021, there was an increase in the frequency of severe watery to hemorrhagic diarrhea cases in neonatal foals in Central Kentucky. Diagnostic investigation of fecal samples failed to detect evidence of diarrhea-causing pathogens including ERVA. Based on Illumina-based metagenomic sequencing, we identified a novel equine rotavirus group B (ERVB) in fecal specimens from the affected foals in the absence of any other known enteric pathogens. Interestingly, the protein sequence of all 11 segments had greater than 96% identity with group B rotaviruses previously found in ruminants. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis demonstrated clustering of the ERVB with group B rotaviruses of caprine and bovine strains from the USA. Subsequent analysis of 33 foal diarrheic samples by RT-qPCR identified 23 rotavirus B-positive cases (69.69%). These observations suggest that the ERVB originated from ruminants and was associated with outbreaks of neonatal foal diarrhea in the 2021 foaling season in Kentucky. Emergence of the ruminant-like group B rotavirus in foals clearly warrants further investigation due to the significant impact of the disease in neonatal foals and its economic impact on the equine industry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1330
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors.


  • Diarrhea
  • Foal
  • Outbreak
  • Rotavirus B

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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