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Outbreak of equine herpesvirus type 1 myeloencephalitis: new insights from virus identification by PCR and the application of an EHV-1 -specific antibody detection ELISA
  1. M. J. Studdert, BVSc, PhD, DVSc1,
  2. C. A. Hartley, BSc, PhDq1,
  3. K. Dynon, BSc1,
  4. J. R. Sandy, BVSc, PhD2,
  5. R. R Slocombe, BVSc, PhD, DipACVP2,
  6. J. A. Charles, BVSc, MS, DipACVP2,
  7. M. E. Milne, BVSc3,
  8. A. F. Clarke, BVSc, PhD3 and
  9. C. El-Hage, BVSc3
  1. 1 Centre for Equine Virology, School of Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia
  2. 2 Pathology Group
  3. 3 Clinical Sciences, Veterinary Clinical Centre, University of Melbourne, Princes Highway, Werribee 3030, Australia

Abstract

Five of 10 pregnant, lactating mares, each with a foal at foot, developed neurological disease. Three of them became recumbent, developed complications and were euthanased; of the two that survived, one aborted an equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1)-positive fetus 68 days after the first signs were observed in the index case and the other gave birth to a healthy foal on day 283 but remained ataxic and incontinent. The diagnosis of EHV-1 myeloencephalitis was supported by postmortem findings, PCR identification of the virus and by serological tests with an EHV-1 -specific ELISA. At the time of the index case, the 10 foals all had a heavy mucopurulent nasal discharge, and PCR and the ELISA were used to detect and monitor EHV-1 infection in them. The status of EHV-1 infection in the five in-contact mares was similarly monitored. Sera from three of the affected mares, taken seven days after the index case were negative or had borderline EHv-1 -specific antibody titres. In later serum samples there was an increase in the titres of EHv-1 -specific antibody in two of the affected mares. In contrast, sera from the five unaffected in-contact mares were all EHv-1 -antibody positive when they were first tested seven or 13 days after the index case.

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