Ectromelia virus (ECTV) is a zoonotic viral disease whose natural host is the mouse. It belongs to the Poxviridae family of the genus Orthopoxvirus and is among the species of Vaccinia virus. It has a linear, double-stranded DNA genome that is 209,771 bp. The virion is gram-negative and appears in large, oval structures with a dimension of approximately 140 X 220 nm. (1.,2.)
Characteristics of the host
What host/s is/are involved? Is there host specificity? Are there secondary reservoirs?
Wild mice, specifically in Europe, are naturally infected with ECTV. The original ECTV strain was discovered in 1930 when mice were first introduced as an experimental laboratory animal. The source of the outbreak was identified from commercial mouse serum obtained from retired breeder mice from laboratory and pet trade background. 
What kind of interaction do host and symbiont have? How is the host affected by the relationship? How does the host acquire and transmit the symbiont? Is the interaction obligate or facultative?
The skin is the natural route of the infection, believed to be through abrasions in the skin. The virus can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected mouse or contaminated bedding. Replication occurs in the epidermis layer of the skin. It then spreads from the release of virual progeny from the initial infected site which results in spread to the lymph nodes, blood stream, and central target organs the spleen and the liver. 
Molecular Insights into the Symbiosis
Describe molecular/genetic studies on the symbiosis. The poxvirus family is characterized by a similar organization of highly conserved essential genes mostly involved in the replication of the virus in the center and unique genes involved in virus-host interactions in the terminal regions.
Ecological and Evolutionary Aspects
What is the evolutionary history of the interaction? Do particular environmental factors play a role in regulating the symbiosis? Since it's discovery in 1930, other ECTV strains have been isolated from various outbreaks around the world, with different disease severity.
Describe two findings on the symbiosis published within the last two years.
1. Chen, N et al. (2003). The genomic sequences of ectromelia virus, the causative agent of mousepox. Virology. 1: 165-86.
2. Esteban, D. and Buller, L. (2005). Ectromelia virus: the causative agent of mousepox. Virology. 86: 2645-2659.
Edited by [Elizabeth Stanley], students of Grace Lim-Fong
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