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The phylogenetically closest virus to variola, the cause of smallpox, is the taterapox virus (TATV). Despite the resemblance, the virus has not been thoroughly studied. TATV can infect a variety of animals in vivo, but it has no noticeable effect on mice of the wild type. However, in some immunocompromised strains, TATV can cause morbidity and mortality. In primate cell lines, ectromelia virus (ECTV) and TATV both replicate effectively, whereas TATV reproduces ineffectively in murine cell lines. Additionally, TATV causes cytopathic effects, but less so than ECTV, and modifies cytoskeletal networks in a different way than both of these viruses (VACV).
Background of Taterapox Virus
TATV is a double-stranded DNA virus that belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus of the Poxviridae family. TATV was isolated from an apparently healthy and wild gerbil caught in northern Dahomey (now Republic of Benin) in 1968. The virus was found to thrive on chorioallantoic membranes (CAMs), form pocks that resembled those of VARV in size, and had a ceiling temperature that is 38 °C, which is also comparable to VARV. Additionally, in Vero, LLC-MK2, GMK-AH, and RK-13 cell lines, TATV caused a cytopathic impact comparable to that of VARV but different from ECTV, MPXV, RPXV, CPXV, or VACV.
Symptoms of Taterapox
The Mongolian gerbil did not exhibit any overt symptoms of illness after receiving TATV suspension intracranially (IC) or intraperitoneally (IP). The spleens, livers, and kidneys of gerbils slaughtered on Days 14 and 19 after infection could not be found to contain any virus. One rabbit that received an intradermal inoculation (ID) developed a local lesion that ulcerated and crusted over. Three further rabbits experienced reddish, indurated regions at the inoculation site, but these went away without ulcerating or crusting. None of the rabbits had secondary or hemorrhagic lesions visible. After receiving an intramuscular and intranasal inoculation, one Macaca mulatta monkey experienced a fever of 40°C.