In 2006, an outbreak of equine infectious anaemia (eia) occurred in Ireland. The initial source of the outbreak is believed to have been contaminated plasma imported from Italy. This paper presents the nucleotide sequence of the gag gene of the virus identified in Ireland (eiavire), the first for a European strain of eiav. Comparison of the gag gene with North American and Asian strains of the virus showed that the gag gene is less well conserved than previously believed, and that eiav strains can have similar phenotypes despite considerable variations in genotype. On the basis of the deduced sequence of the eiavire gag gene, highly sensitive, specific and quantitative rt-pcr and pcr assays were developed, and used to quantify the eiav nucleic acid in postmortem tissues, plasma and secretions of infected horses. This is the first report of the detection and quantification of eiav in nasal, buccal and genital swabs by rt-pcr.
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