TitleThe increased prevalence of neuropathogenic strains of EHV-1 in equine abortions.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsSmith, KL, Allen, GP, Branscum, AJ, R Cook, F, Vickers, ML, Timoney, PJ, Balasuriya, UBR
JournalVeterinary microbiology
Date Published2010 Feb 24

A panel of 426 archived EHV-1 isolates collected (1951-2006) from equine abortions was analyzed using a real-time Taq-Man((R)) allelic discrimination PCR assay. Based on previous findings, isolates possessing adenine at nucleotide position 2254 (A(2254)) in ORF30 were classified as having a non-neuropathogenic genotype and those with guanine at 2254 (G(2254)) were designated as the neuropathogenic genotype. The resultant data demonstrated that viruses with the neuropathogenic genotype existed in the 1950s and isolates with this genotype increased from 3.3% in the 1960s to 14.4% in the 1990s. The incidence of EHV-1 isolates from 2000 to 2006 with G at position 2254 is 19.4%, suggesting that viruses with the neuropathogenic genotype are continuing to increase in prevalence within the latent reservoir of the virus, leading to greater risks for costly outbreaks of equine herpesvirus neurologic disease. Another highly significant finding was two isolates failed to react with either probe in the allelic discrimination assay. These isolates were found to possess an adenine to cytosine substitution at position 2258 (A(2258)-->C(2258)) in ORF30, in addition to A(2254)-->G(2254). Interestingly, the non-neuropathogenic RAC-H modified live vaccine strain of EHV-1 also contains both A(2254)-->G(2254) and A(2258)-->C(2258) substitutions. This finding clearly suggests that additional research is required before the genetic basis of the neuropathogenic phenotype in EHV-1 is fully understood.