Bovine Kobuvirus, a cattle virus first discovered in Japan in 2003, has arrived in the United States.

The arrival is reported in the medical journal, “Emerging Infectious Diseases.” Bovine Kobuvirus or BKV is from the family of viruses that cause head colds and sinus infections in humans.

BKV looks to be the latest in zoonotic diseases, meaning those caused by infections that may spread between animals and people. 

University of Illinois research into the deaths of two calves led to the discovery of BKV in the U.S. Calve intestines were subject to microbial DNA sampling and sequencing that linked them to the virus in Japan.

Since first reported in Japan by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 17 years ago, BKV reports have come in from Thailand, Hungary, the Netherlands, Korea, Italy, Brazil, China and Egypt.

The CDC says the prevalence of BKV in the United States “remains unknown,” and the University of Illinois finding means there is a need for “continued surveillance.” The need now is to determine the rate and distribution of BKV in North American.

It is not known if BKV is strictly a zoonotic disease or if it might spread to humans. The kobuvirus form in humans is called the “Aichi virus,” and it causes “acute gastroenteritis.” Kobuviruses may be transmitted via the fecal-oral route or from eating contaminated food.

UI’s Leyi Wang, professor of veterinary clinical medicine, led the research finding the Bovine Kobuvirus on U.S. soil.

Zoonotic diseases concern both CDC and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The USDA unit has mostly been on the lookout for the highly contagious and deadly viral disease called African Swine Fever.

Since it emerged from Africa in the 1920s, ASF has become common in parts of Asia and Europe, but North America is ASF-free.

And the spread out of China of the new coronavirus has zoonotic origins. “Current knowledge is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses,” says CDC.

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERSSARS, and now with 2019-nCoV.”