It’s official. The executive committee of the International Committee of Taxonomy of Viruses approved naming a new virus, influenza D, as the South Dakota State University researchers who discovered it proposed, according to professor Feng Li.

generic influenza virion
3D influenza/CDC

The committee officially announced a new genus, Orthomyxovirdae, with a single species, Influenza D virus, because of its distinctness from other influenza types—A, B and C.

Though SDSU alumnus Ben Hause isolated the virus from a diseased pig in 2011, he later found that cattle were the primary reservoir for influenza D. Hause identified and characterized the new virus as part of his doctoral research under Li’s tutelage.

This is the first influenza virus identified in cattle, Li explained. “This contribution was made in South Dakota and our theory has been confirmed independently by other research groups.”

Li and Radhey Kaushik, professor and assistant head of the biology and microbiology department, secured a National Institutes of Health grant for nearly $400,000 to study the biology, genetics and evolution of the new virus.

“From a science viewpoint, it’s very exciting to work with a brand-new virus,” said Li, who has joint appointments in the biology and microbiology and veterinary and biomedical sciences departments.

Read more at South Dakota State University