Canine noroviruses (NoVs) have been recently described in south European countries and associated with outbreaks of diarrhea in kennels. Unlike human NoV which are known as an important cause of acute gastroenteritis, little is known about the role of canine NoV as pathogens in dogs as well as its epidemiological features.
From 2007–2011, 256 stool samples were collected from dogs across Portugal and tested by RT-PCR for canine NoV. Viral fecal shedding was found to be 23% (60/256). All sequences contained the GLPSG amino acid motif characteristic of the RNA-dependent RNA-polymerase gene of NoVs and had a high nucleotide identity (range 98%–100%) to the canine NoV first described in Portugal. The highest shedding rate was detected during the winter months.
This study shows that canine NoV infection is endemic in the dog population of Portugal. Peak shedding was detected in the winter months, a well-known epidemiologic feature of human NoV infections.
Keywords: Canine norovirus, Dog, Fecal shedding, Winter, Seasonality