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Open Access Research article

Isolation and characterisation of a ruminant alphaherpesvirus closely related to bovine herpesvirus 1 in a free-ranging red deer

Julien Thiry1, Frederik Widén2, Fabien Grégoire3, Annick Linden3, Sándor Belák2 and Etienne Thiry1*

Author Affiliations

1 Virology and Viral Diseases, Department of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, B-4000 Liège, Belgium

2 Joint R&D Division, Departments of Virology, National Veterinary Institute and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-75189 Uppsala, Sweden

3 Bacteriology, Department of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, B-4000 Liège, Belgium

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BMC Veterinary Research 2007, 3:26  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-3-26

Published: 28 September 2007

Abstract

Background

The genus Varicellovirus of the Herpesviridae subfamily Alphaherpesvirinae includes a cluster of viruses antigenically and genetically related to bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1): namely bovine herpesvirus 5 (BoHV-5), bubaline herpesvirus 1 (BuHV-1), caprine herpesvirus 1 (CpHV-1), cervid herpesviruses 1 (CvHV-1) and 2 (CvHV-2) and elk herpesvirus 1 (ElkHV-1). Considering the serological relationship between these ruminant alphaherpesviruses, several surveys have studied the occurrence of BoHV-1 related virus infection in wild and domestic ruminant species. In this way, a recent investigation has indicated, in Belgium, a high increase in the serological prevalence of BoHV-1 related virus infection in free-ranging red deer population. In this context, it has been decided to investigate the presence of an alphaherpesvirus spreading in the Belgian free-ranging red deer population.

Results

The current study reports the first isolation in a free-ranging red deer of a BoHV-1 closely related virus. The isolate was antigenically, genomically and genetically characterised by comparison with several ruminant alphaherpesvirus. Immunofluorescence assays revealed the isolate was antigenically distinct from bovine and caprine alphaherpesviruses. Similarly, BamHI and BstEII restriction analyses demonstrated the genomic difference between the isolate and the other ruminant alphaherpesviruses. Next, the sequencing of selected parts of UL27 and US8 genes showed a high degree of homologies between each BoHV-1 related ruminant alphaherpesvirus and the isolate. Besides the close relationship between all ruminant alphaherpesviruses, the phylogenetic analysis revealed that the isolate clustered with CvHV-1.

Conclusion

The first isolation of a virus closely related to BoHV-1 in a free-ranging red deer is reported. Data demonstrate that a CvHV-1 strain, named Anlier, circulates in wild red deer in continental Europe. Anlier strain show consistent differences with the virus isolated from Scottish farmed red deer. All together, these results improve our understanding of ruminant alphaherpesviruses.