Researchers Discover New Virus in Swiss Ticks

An article titled “New Virus Discovered in Swiss Ticks” published inNew Virus in Swiss Ticks Global Biodefense on December 7, 2022, provides information about Alongshan virus (ALSV), which was first discovered in China in 2017. For the first time, scientists at the University of Zurich have detected the novel virus in Swiss ticks.

According to the article, the number of tick-borne pathogens is steadily increasing in Switzerland. ALSV is in the same flavivirus family as tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) and is seemingly just as prevalent with both pathogens causing similar symptoms. Several patients were found to be suffering from fever and headaches following a tick bite – typical symptoms of initial TBEV. However, it was not possible to detect antibodies against the virus or its genetic material. Rather, a formerly unknown RNA virus was found: the Alongshan virus.

A complete gene sequence of ALSV was found in numerous tick samples originating from several regions of Switzerland in 2021 and 2022. The researchers were surprised to find that ALSV was detected far more often than TBEV in the samples.

Because symptoms from ALSV infections are similar to those caused by TBEV, the Alongshan virus could already be a public health issue in Switzerland – although undetected, since, unlike TBEV, there are presently no vaccines or detection methods for ALSV. The researchers are now developing a serological test to identify ALSV infections.

For more information:

Read the article in Global Biodefense.

Read about the discovery of Alongshan virus in China.

Read about the vaccine being developed for tick-borne encephalitis.