Exploring viral diversity and metagenomics in livestock: insights into disease emergence and spillover risks in cattle

Julián Esteban Medina, Sergio Castañeda, Milena Camargo, Diego J. Garcia-Corredor, Marina Muñoz, Juan David Ramírez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cattle have a significant impact on human societies in terms of both economics and health. Viral infections pose a relevant problem as they directly or indirectly disrupt the balance within cattle populations. This has negative consequences at the economic level for producers and territories, and also jeopardizes human health through the transmission of zoonotic diseases that can escalate into outbreaks or pandemics. To establish prevention strategies and control measures at various levels (animal, farm, region, or global), it is crucial to identify the viral agents present in animals. Various techniques, including virus isolation, serological tests, and molecular techniques like PCR, are typically employed for this purpose. However, these techniques have two major drawbacks: they are ineffective for non-culturable viruses, and they only detect a small fraction of the viruses present. In contrast, metagenomics offers a promising approach by providing a comprehensive and unbiased analysis for detecting all viruses in a given sample. It has the potential to identify rare or novel infectious agents promptly and establish a baseline of healthy animals. Nevertheless, the routine application of viral metagenomics for epidemiological surveillance and diagnostics faces challenges related to socioeconomic variables, such as resource availability and space dedicated to metagenomics, as well as the lack of standardized protocols and resulting heterogeneity in presenting results. This review aims to provide an overview of the current knowledge and prospects for using viral metagenomics to detect and identify viruses in cattle raised for livestock, while discussing the epidemiological and clinical implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalVeterinary Research Communications
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Veterinary


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