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The Zoonotic Bornavirus Consortium (ZooBoCo) is working on the characterisation of the newly discovered variegated squirrel bornavirus 1 (VSBV-1).


Since its initial description in 2015, four deaths have been recorded in Germany due to infections with the new variegated squirrel borna virus (VSBV-1). This unexpected accumulation raises serious concerns about the transmissibility of CSBV-1 and related borna viruses to humans and the pathogenic potential of these viruses. The exact number of horns or humans currently infected with or exposed to potentially dangerous Borna viruses is unknown. It is therefore unclear whether the horns can transmit these viruses or whether there is a reservoir of other hosts that still needs to be identified.


The research network will generate urgently needed data to better understand the zoonotic potential of these viruses, their characteristic properties and their putative reservoir host species and transmission routes. Furthermore, suitable intervention strategies will be investigated.


Aim 1: Knowledge of reservoirs, epidemiology and (molecular) biology of CSBV-1 to design a model for novel zoonotic infections

Aim 2: Concepts for the use of next-generation sequencing for metagenome diagnostics of zoonotic infections of the central nervous system (CNS): VSBV-1 as a model for unexplained encephalitis cases

Aim 3: First evaluation of antiviral substances with regard to their effect against CDBV-1 and other Borna viruses

Aim 4: Risk assessment: models for public health services, including the development of new intervention approaches and adaptation of legislation


Prof. Dr. Martin Beer
Institute for Virus Diagnostics
Tel.: +49 (0)38351 7 1200

List of subproject leaders


Prof. Dr. Martin Beer, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut
Dr. Jürgen Rissland, Universität Saarland, Institut für Virologie


PD Dr. Rainer G. Ulrich, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut
Dr. Bernd Hoffmann, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut


Dr. Dirk Höper, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut
Prof. Dr. Martin Beer, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut


Dr. Donata Hoffmann, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut
Prof. Dr. Christiane Herden, Justus-Liebig-Universität
Dr. Heinz Feldmann, National Institute of Allergy and Infection


Prof. Dr. Martin Schwemmle, Universitätsklinikum Freiburg
Dr. Dennis Rubbenstroth, Universitätsklinikum Freiburg


Prof. Dr. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, Bernhard-Nocht-Institut für Tropenmedizin
Prof. Dr. Dennis Tappe, Bernhard-Nocht-Institut für Tropenmedizin
Dr. Timo Hohmeier-Bachmann, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut
Dr. Hendrik Wilking, Robert-Koch-Institut
Prof. Dr. Klaus Stark, Robert-Koch-Institut


Dr. Jürgen Rissland, Universität Saarland, Institut für Virologie

Nationale Forschungsplattform für Zoonosen