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A new taxon of the subfamily Chordopoxvirinae that may represent a new genus of smallpox viruses is considered in this review. The distribution of gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) throughout the UK during the 20th century and the decrease in the population of red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) is one of the most well-documented cases of ecological change of local fauna by the introduced species. The tendency to expand the distribution of the smallpox virus from Great Britain to the Western part of Europe has been noted. The genetic peculiarities of the genome of the poxvirus of squirrels, which determine its biological properties, as well as evolutionary relationships with other poxviruses, are separately described. Determination of the size of the genome by restriction analysis, sequencing of the whole genome, determination of the content of G/C nucleotide pairs, and functional mapping of the majority of genes made it possible to construct a phylogenetic tree. Phylogenetic analysis shows that this is a new representative of the subfamily Chordоpoxvirinae located between the viruses of the molluscum contagiosum and parapoxviruses. Serological and molecular biological methods are used to reveal and identify the causative agent of smallpox. The use of electron microscopy is limited in grey squirrels, due to the absence of organ damage and reproduction of the virus. Identification of the DNA of the causative agent of poxvirus of squirrels based on the use of different types of polymerase chain reaction (nested and in real time) overcomes all these limitations.

About the authors

S. V. Borisevich

48th Central Scientific Research Institute

Author for correspondence.
Email: 48cnii@mil.ru
Russian Federation

L. F. Stovba

48th Central Scientific Research Institute

Email: noemail@neicon.ru
Russian Federation

D. I. Paveliev

48th Central Scientific Research Institute

Email: noemail@neicon.ru
Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2018 Borisevich S.V., Stovba L.F., Paveliev D.I.

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