Free Access
Volume 38, Number 2, March-April 2007
Page(s) 181 - 190
Published online 10 February 2007
Apidologie 38 (2007) 181-190
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006072

First detection of Kashmir bee virus in the UK using real-time PCR

Lisa Warda, Ruth Waitea, Neil Boonhama, Tom Fishera, Kelly Pescoda, Helen Thompsona, Panuwan Chantawannakulb and Michael Browna

a  Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, York, YO41 1LZ, UK
b  Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University, Chiang, Mai, 50200 Thailand

(Received 24 May 2006 - Revised 2 August 2006 - Accepted 23 August 2006 - Published online 10 February 2007)

Abstract - Kashmir bee virus (KBV) often persists in bees as a covert infection with no apparent symptoms. The virus can switch to become an overt lethal infection, especially in the presence of Varroa mites. Although the virus is distributed worldwide, it was thought to be absent from the UK. A real-time PCR assay was developed for specific detection of KBV. No cross-reaction was observed with other bee viruses. KBV was successfully amplified from different life stages of honey bees and from a wasp and bumble bee. Using the real-time PCR assay, a survey of hives was conducted in England and Wales to investigate the presence and geographical distribution of the virus. KBV was detected within three colonies at two locations. The virus titre in the positive samples was quantified and found to contain similar levels to other bees with covert KBV infection. We conclude that KBV is present in the UK and cannot now be considered an exotic disease. The discovery of KBV in the UK has major significance for import policies.

Key words: Kashmir bee virus / Apis mellifera / real-time PCR / detection / survey

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© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2007