Since 1998, Bluetongue virus (BTV)-serotypes 1, 2, 4, 9, and 16 have invaded European countries around the Mediterranean Basin. In 2006, a huge BT-outbreak started after incursion of BTV-serotype 8 (BTV8) in North-Western Europe. More recently, BTV6 and BTV11 were reported in North-Western Europe in 2008. These latter strains are closely related to live-attenuated vaccine, whereas BTV8 is virulent and can induce severe disease in ruminants, including cattle. In addition, Toggenburg orbivirus (TOV) was detected in 2008 in Swiss goats, which was recognized as a new serotype of BTV (BTV25). The (re-)emergency of known and unknown BTV-serotypes needs a rapid response to supply effective vaccines, and research to study this phenomenon. Recently, orbivirus research achieved an important breakthrough by the establishment of reverse genetics for BTV1. Here, reverse genetics for two recent BTV strains representing virulent BTV8 and avirulent BTV6 was developed. For this purpose, extensive sequencing of full-genomes was performed, resulting in the consensus sequences of BTV8/net07 and BTV6/net08. The recovery of ‘synthetic BTV’, respectively rgBTV8 and rgBTV6, completely from T7-derived RNA transcripts was confirmed by silent mutations by which these ‘synthetic BTVs’ could be genetically distinguished from wild type BTV, respectively wtBTV6 and wtBTV8. The in vitro and in vivo properties of rgBTV6 or rgBTV8 were comparable to the properties of their parent strains. The asymptomatic or avirulent properties of rgBTV6 and the virulence of rgBTV8 were confirmed by experimental infection of sheep. Reverse genetics of the vaccine-related BTV6 provides a perfect start to develop new generations of BT-vaccines. Reverse genetics of the virulent BTV8 will accelerate research on the special features of BTV8, like transmission by species of Culicoides in a moderate climate, transplacental transmission, and pathogenesis in cattle.
Since 1998, several serotypes of Bluetongue virus (BTV) have invaded several southern European countries. In 2006, the unknown BTV serotype 8 (BTV8/net06) unexpectedly invaded North-West Europe and has resulted in the largest BT-outbreak ever recorded. More recently, in 2008 BTV serotype 6 was reported in the Netherlands and Germany. This virus, BTV6/net08, is closely related to modified-live vaccine virus serotype 6, except for genome segment S10. This genome segment is closer related to that of vaccine virus serotype 2, and therefore BTV6/net08 is considered as a result of reassortment. Research on orbiviruses has been hampered by the lack of a genetic modification method. Recently, reverse genetics has been developed for BTV based on ten in vitro synthesized genomic RNAs. Here, we describe a targeted single-gene modification system for BTV based on the uptake of a single in vitro synthesized viral positive-stranded RNA. cDNAs corresponding to BTV8/net06 genome segments S7 and S10 were obtained by gene synthesis and cloned downstream of the T7 RNA-polymerase promoter and upstream of a unique site for a restriction enzyme at the 3'-terminus for run-off transcription. Monolayers of BSR cells were infected by BTV6/net08, and subsequently transfected with purified in vitro synthesized, capped positive-stranded S7 or S10 RNA from BTV8/net06 origin. "Synthetic" reassortants were rescued by endpoint dilutions, and identified by serotype-specific PCR-assays for segment 2, and serogroup-specific PCRs followed by restriction enzyme analysis or sequencing for S7 and S10 segments. The targeted single-gene modification system can also be used to study functions of viral proteins by uptake of mutated genome segments. This method is also useful to generate mutant orbiviruses for other serogroups of the genus Orbivirus for which reverse genetics has not been developed yet.
Central and northern Europe are now at risk from bluetongue virus.
Keywords: Bluetongue, BTV-8, epidemiology, cattle, sheep, Europe, disease perspectives, vectorial capacity, vector competence, vaccination, perspective
Bluetongue (BT) is a reportable disease of considerable socioeconomic concern and of major importance in the international trade of animals and animal products. Before 1998, BT was considered an exotic disease in Europe. From 1998 through 2005, at least 6 BT virus strains belonging to 5 serotypes (BTV-1, BTV-2, BTV-4, BTV-9, and BTV-16) were continuously present in the Mediterranean Basin. Since August 2006, BTV-8 has caused a severe epizootic of BT in northern Europe. The widespread recrudescence and extension of BTV-8 infections in northern Europe during 2007 suggest that requirements for BTV establishment may now be fulfilled in this area. In addition, the radial extension of BTV-8 across Europe increases the risk for an encounter between this serotype and others, particularly those that occur in the Mediterranean Basin, where vector activity continues for more of the year. This condition increases the risk for reassortment of individual BTV gene segments.
Bluetongue virus is the “type” species of the genus Orbivirus, family Reoviridae. Twenty four distinct bluetongue virus (BTV) serotypes have been recognized for decades, any of which is thought to be capable of causing “bluetongue” (BT), an insect-borne disease of ruminants. However, two further BTV serotypes, BTV-25 (Toggenburg orbivirus, from Switzerland) and BTV-26 (from Kuwait) have recently been identified in goats and sheep, respectively. The BTV genome is composed of ten segments of linear dsRNA, encoding 7 virus-structural proteins (VP1 to VP7) and four distinct non-structural (NS) proteins (NS1 to NS4). We report the entire BTV-26 genome sequence (isolate KUW2010/02) and comparisons to other orbiviruses. Highest identity levels were consistently detected with other BTV strains, identifying KUW2010/02 as BTV. The outer-core protein and major BTV serogroup-specific antigen “VP7” showed 98% aa sequence identity with BTV-25, indicating a common ancestry. However, higher level of variation in the nucleotide sequence of Seg-7 (81.2% identity) suggests strong conservation pressures on the protein of these two strains, and that they diverged a long time ago. Comparisons of Seg-2, encoding major outer-capsid component and cell-attachment protein “VP2” identified KUW2010/02 as 26th BTV, within a 12th Seg-2 nucleotype [nucleotype L]. Comparisons of Seg-6, encoding the smaller outer capsid protein VP5, also showed levels of nt/aa variation consistent with identification of KUW2010/02 as BTV-26 (within a 9th Seg-6 nucleotype - nucleotype I). Sequence data for Seg-2 of KUW2010/02 were used to design four sets of oligonucleotide primers for use in BTV-26, type-specific RT-PCR assays. Analyses of other more conserved genome segments placed KUW2010/02 and BTV-25/SWI2008/01 closer to each other than to other “eastern” or “western” BTV strains, but as representatives of two novel and distinct geographic groups (topotypes). Our analyses indicate that all of the BTV genome segments have evolved under strong purifying selection.
In 2006, bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) was detected for the first time in central Europe. Measures to control the infection in livestock were implemented in Switzerland but the question was raised whether free-ranging wildlife could be a maintenance host for BTV-8. Furthermore Toggenburg orbivirus (TOV), considered as a potential 25th BTV serotype, was detected in 2007 in domestic goats in Switzerland and wild ruminants were considered a potential source of infection. To assess prevalences of BTV-8 and TOV infections in wildlife, we conducted a serological and virological survey in red deer, roe deer, Alpine chamois and Alpine ibex between 2009 and 2011. Because samples originating from wildlife carcasses are often of poor quality, we also documented the influence of hemolysis on test results, and evaluated the usefulness of confirmatory tests.
Ten out of 1,898 animals (0.5%, 95% confidence interval 0.3-1.0%) had detectable antibodies against BTV-8 and BTV-8 RNA was found in two chamois and one roe deer (0.3%, 0.1-0.8%). Seroprevalence was highest among red deer, and the majority of positive wild animals were sampled close to areas where outbreaks had been reported in livestock. Most samples were hemolytic and the range of the optical density percentage values obtained in the screening test increased with increasing hemolysis. Confirmatory tests significantly increased specificity of the testing procedure and proved to be applicable even on poor quality samples. Nearly all samples confirmed as positive had an optical density percentage value greater than 50% in the ELISA screening.
Prevalence of BTV-8 infection was low, and none of the tested animals were positive for TOV. Currently, wild ruminants are apparently not a reservoir for these viruses in Switzerland. However, we report for the first time BTV-8 RNA in Alpine chamois. This animal was found at high altitude and far from a domestic outbreak, which suggests that the virus could spread into/through the Alps. Regarding testing procedures, hemolysis did not significantly affect test results but confirmatory tests proved to be necessary to obtain reliable prevalence estimates. The cut-off value recommended by the manufacturer for the screening test was applicable for wildlife samples.
Bluetongue virus; Cross-sectional study; Hemolysis; Switzerland; Toggenburg orbivirus; Wildlife samples
In August 2006 a major epidemic of bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV8) started off in North-West Europe. In the course of 2007 it became evident that BTV8 had survived the winter in North-West Europe, re-emerged and spread exponentially. Recently, the European Union decided to start vaccination against BTV8. In order to improve the understanding of the epidemiological situation, it was necessary to execute a cross-sectional serological study at the end of the BT vector season. Cattle were the target species for cross-sectional serological studies in Europe at the end of 2006 and 2007. However, there was no information on the BTV8-seroprevalence in sheep and goats.
On the basis of our cross-sectional study, the estimated seroprevalence of BTV8-exposed locations in the Netherlands in 2006 was 0% for goats (95% confidence interval: 0 – 5.6%) and 7.0% for sheep (95% confidence interval: 3.5 – 12.9%). The estimated seroprevalence of BTV-8 exposed locations in 2007 was 47% for goats (95% confidence interval: 36 – 58%) and 70% for sheep (95% confidence interval: 63 – 76%). There was a wide range in within-location seroprevalence in locations with goats and sheep (1 – 100%). A gradient in seroprevalence was seen, with the highest level of seroprevalence in the southern Netherlands, the area where the epidemic started in 2006, and a decreasing seroprevalence when going in a northern direction.
There is a much higher estimated seroprevalence of locations with goats exposed to BTV8 than can be inferred from the rather low number of reported clinical outbreaks in goats. This is probably due to the fact that clinical signs in infected goats are far less obvious than in sheep. The wide range in within-location seroprevalence observed means that the proportion of animals protected in 2008 by a natural infection in 2006 and/or 2007 can differ highly between flocks. This should be taken into account when vaccinating animals.
Nucleotide sequences analysis indicates that this virus is a new serotype of bluetongue virus.
A novel bluetongue virus (BTV) termed Toggenburg orbivirus (TOV) was detected in goats from Switzerland by using real-time reverse transcription–PCR. cDNA corresponding to the complete sequence of 7 of 10 double-stranded RNA segments of the viral genome was amplified by PCR and cloned into a plasmid vector. Five clones for each genome segment were sequenced to determine a consensus sequence. BLAST analysis and dendrogram construction showed that TOV is closely related to BTV, although some genome segments are distinct from the 24 known BTV serotypes. Maximal sequence identity to any BTV ranged from 63% (segment 2) to 79% (segments 7 and 10). Because the gene encoding outer capsid protein 2 (VP2), which determines the serotype of BTV, is placed within the BTV serogroup, we propose that TOV represents an unknown 25th serotype of BTV.
Orbivirus; bluetongue virus; goats; molecular epidemiology; genotyping; serotypes; research
Many wild ruminants such as Spanish ibex (Capra pyrenaica) are susceptible to Bluetongue virus (BTV) infection, which causes disease mainly in domestic sheep and cattle. Outbreaks involving either BTV serotypes 1 (BTV-1) and 8 (BTV-8) are currently challenging Europe. Inclusion of wildlife vaccination among BTV control measures should be considered in certain species. In the present study, four out of fifteen seronegative Spanish ibexes were immunized with a single dose of inactivated vaccine against BTV-1, four against BTV-8 and seven ibexes were non vaccinated controls. Seven ibexes (four vaccinated and three controls) were inoculated with each BTV serotype. Antibody and IFN-gamma responses were evaluated until 28 days after inoculation (dpi). The vaccinated ibexes showed significant (P<0.05) neutralizing antibody levels after vaccination compared to non vaccinated ibexes. The non vaccinated ibexes remained seronegative until challenge and showed neutralizing antibodies from 7 dpi. BTV RNA was detected in the blood of non vaccinated ibexes from 2 to the end of the study (28 dpi) and in target tissue samples obtained at necropsy (8 and 28 dpi). BTV-1 was successfully isolated on cell culture from blood and target tissues of non vaccinated ibexes. Clinical signs were unapparent and no gross lesions were found at necropsy. Our results show for the first time that Spanish ibex is susceptible and asymptomatic to BTV infection and also that a single dose of vaccine prevents viraemia against BTV-1 and BTV-8 replication.
Bluetongue virus (BTV) can infect most species of domestic and wild ruminants causing substantial morbidity and mortality and, consequently, high economic losses. In 2006, an epizootic of BTV serotype 8 (BTV-8) started in northern Europe that caused significant disease in cattle and sheep before comprehensive vaccination was introduced two years later. Here, we evaluate the potential of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1), an alphaherpesvirus, as a novel vectored DIVA (differentiating infected from vaccinated animals) vaccine expressing VP2 of BTV-8 alone or in combination with VP5. The EHV-1 recombinant viruses stably expressed the transgenes and grew with kinetics that were identical to those of parental virus in vitro. After immunization of mice, a BTV-8-specific neutralizing antibody response was elicited. In a challenge experiment using a lethal dose of BTV-8, 100% of interferon-receptor-deficient (IFNAR−/−) mice vaccinated with the recombinant EHV-1 carrying both VP2 and VP5, but not VP2 alone, survived. VP7 was not included in the vectored vaccines and was successfully used as a DIVA marker. In summary, we show that EHV-1 expressing BTV-8 VP2 and VP5 is capable of eliciting a protective immune response that is distinguishable from that after infection and as such may be an alternative for BTV vaccination strategies in which DIVA compatibility is of importance.
Transplacental transmission of bluetongue virus has been shown previously for the North European strain of serotype 8 (BTV-8) and for tissue culture or chicken egg-adapted vaccine strains but not for field strains of other serotypes. In this study, pregnant ewes (6 per group) were inoculated with either field or rescued strains of BTV-2 and BTV-8 in order to determine the ability of these viruses to cross the placental barrier. The field BTV-2 and BTV-8 strains was passaged once in Culicoides KC cells and once in mammalian cells. All virus inoculated sheep became infected and seroconverted against the different BTV strains used in this study. BTV RNA was detectable in the blood of all but two ewes for over 28 days but infectious virus could only be detected in the blood for a much shorter period. Interestingly, transplacental transmission of BTV-2 (both field and rescued strains) was demonstrated at high efficiency (6 out of 13 lambs born to BTV-2 infected ewes) while only 1 lamb of 12 born to BTV-8 infected ewes showed evidence of in utero infection. In addition, evidence for horizontal transmission of BTV-2 between ewes was observed. As expected, the parental BTV-2 and BTV-8 viruses and the viruses rescued by reverse genetics showed very similar properties to each other. This study showed, for the first time, that transplacental transmission of BTV-2, which had been minimally passaged in cell culture, can occur; hence such transmission might be more frequent than previously thought.
Bluetongue virus (BTV) is an economically important, arthropod borne, emerging pathogen in Europe, causing disease mainly in sheep and cattle. Routine vaccination for bluetongue would require the ability to distinguish between vaccinated and infected individuals (DIVA). Current vaccines are effective but are not DIVA. Virus-like particles (VLPs) are highly immunogenic structural mimics of virus particles, that only contain a subset of the proteins present in a natural infection. VLPs therefore offer the potential for the development of DIVA compatible bluetongue vaccines.
Merino sheep were vaccinated with either monovalent BTV-1 VLPs or a bivalent mixture of BTV-1 VLPs and BTV-4 VLPs, and challenged with virulent BTV-1 or BTV-4. Animals were monitored for clinical signs, antibody responses, and viral RNA. 19/20 animals vaccinated with BTV-1 VLPs either alone or in combination with BTV-4 VLPs developed neutralizing antibodies to BTV-1, and group specific antibodies to BTV VP7. The one animal that showed no detectable neutralizing antibodies, or group specific antibodies, had detectable viral RNA following challenge but did not display any clinical signs on challenge with virulent BTV-1. In contrast, all control animals' demonstrated classical clinical signs for bluetongue on challenge with the same virus. Six animals were vaccinated with bivalent vaccine and challenged with virulent BTV-4, two of these animals had detectable viral levels of viral RNA, and one of these showed clinical signs consistent with BTV infection and died.
There is good evidence that BTV-1 VLPs delivered as monovalent or bivalent immunogen protect from bluetongue disease on challenge with virulent BTV-1. However, it is possible that there is some interference in protective response for BTV-4 in the bivalent BTV-1 and BTV-4 VLP vaccine. This raises the question of whether all combinations of bivalent BTV vaccines are possible, or if immunodominance of particular serotypes could interfere with vaccine efficacy.
The recent bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) epidemic in Western Europe struck hard. Controlling the infection was difficult and a good and safe vaccine was not available until the spring of 2008. Little was known regarding BTV transmission in Western Europe or the efficacy of control measures. Quantitative details on transmission are essential to assess the potential and efficacy of such measures.
To quantify virus transmission between herds, a temporal and a spatio-temporal analysis were applied to data on reported infected herds in 2006. We calculated the basic reproduction number between herds (Rh: expected number of new infections, generated by one initial infected herd in a susceptible environment). It was found to be of the same order of magnitude as that of an infection with Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in The Netherlands, e.g. around 4. We concluded that an average day temperature of at least 15°C is required for BTV-8 transmission between herds in Western Europe. A few degrees increase in temperature is found to lead to a major increase in BTV-8 transmission.
We also found that the applied disease control (spatial zones based on 20 km radius restricting animal transport to outside regions) led to a spatial transmission pattern of BTV-8, with 85% of transmission restricted to a 20 km range. This 20 km equals the scale of the protection zones. We concluded that free animal movement led to substantial faster spread of the BTV-8 epidemic over space as compared to a situation with animal movement restrictions.
Bluetongue (BT) is a viral disease of ruminants transmitted by Culicoides biting midges and has the ability to spread rapidly over large distances. In the summer of 2006, BTV serotype 8 (BTV-8) emerged for the first time in northern Europe, resulting in over 2000 infected farms by the end of the year. The virus subsequently overwintered and has since spread across much of Europe, causing tens of thousands of livestock deaths. In August 2007, BTV-8 reached Great Britain (GB), threatening the large and valuable livestock industry. A voluntary vaccination scheme was launched in GB in May 2008 and, in contrast with elsewhere in Europe, there were no reported cases in GB during 2008.
Here, we use carefully parameterised mathematical models to investigate the spread of BTV in GB and its control by vaccination. In the absence of vaccination, the model predicted severe outbreaks of BTV, particularly for warmer temperatures. Vaccination was predicted to reduce the severity of epidemics, with the greatest reduction achieved for high levels (95%) of vaccine uptake. However, even at this level of uptake the model predicted some spread of BTV. The sensitivity of the predictions to vaccination parameters (time to full protection in cattle, vaccine efficacy), the shape of the transmission kernel and temperature dependence in the transmission of BTV between farms was assessed.
A combination of lower temperatures and high levels of vaccine uptake (>80%) in the previously-affected areas are likely to be the major contributing factors in the control achieved in England in 2008. However, low levels of vaccination against BTV-8 or the introduction of other serotypes could result in further, potentially severe outbreaks in future.
To better define the molecular epidemiology of bluetongue virus (BTV) infection, the genetic characteristics and phylogenetic relationships of the S3 genes of the five U.S. prototype strains of BTV, the commercially available serotype 10 modified live virus vaccine, and 18 field isolates of BTV serotypes 10, 11, 13, and 17 obtained in California during 1980, 1981, 1989, and 1990 were determined. With the exception of the S3 gene of the U.S. prototype strain of BTV serotype 2 (BTV 2), these viruses had an overall sequence homology of between 95 and 100%. Phylogenetic analyses segregated the prototype U.S. BTV 2 strain to a unique branch (100% bootstrap value), whereas the rest of the viruses clustered in two main monophyletic groups that were not correlated with their serotype, year of isolation, or geographical origin. The lack of consistent association between S3 gene sequence and virus serotype likely is a consequence of reassortment of BTV gene segments during natural mixed infections of vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. The prototype strain of BTV 13, which is considered an introduction to the U.S. like BTV 2, presents an S3 gene which is highly homologous to those of some isolates of BTV 10 and especially to that of the vaccine strain. This finding strongly suggests that the U.S. prototype strain of BTV 13 is a natural reassortant. The different topologies of the phylogenetic trees of the L2 and S3 genes of the various viruses indicate that these two genome segments evolve independently. We conclude that the S3 gene segment of populations of BTV in California is formed by different consensus sequences which cocirculate and which cannot be grouped by serotype.
The effects of the recent vaccinations against bluetongue virus serotype 1 (BTV-1) and BTV-8 in Europe on the reliability of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) currently used for diagnosis of small-ruminant lentivirus (SRLV) infection were examined. Primary vaccination against BTV-8 in goats induced an increase in reactivity that did not exceed 3 months in a whole-virus indirect ELISA and a competitive ELISA based on the gp135 glycoprotein. Subsequent BTV-1/8 vaccination extended the time scale of false-positive reactivity for up to 6 months. These results are of relevance for SRLV-monitoring programs.
Bluetongue virus (BTV) is transmitted by biting midges (Culicoides spp.). It causes disease mainly in sheep and occasionally in cattle and other species. BTV has spread into northern Europe, causing disease in sheep and cattle. The introduction of new serotypes, changes in vector species, and climate change have contributed to these changes. Ten BTV serotypes have been isolated in Australia without apparent associated disease. Simplified methods for preferential isolation of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and template preparation enabled high-throughput sequencing of the 10 genome segments of all Australian BTV prototype serotypes. Phylogenetic analysis reinforced the Western and Eastern topotypes previously characterized but revealed unique features of several Australian BTVs. Many of the Australian BTV genome segments (Seg-) were closely related, clustering together within the Eastern topotypes. A novel Australian topotype for Seg-5 (NS1) was identified, with taxa spread across several serotypes and over time. Seg-1, -2, -3, -4, -6, -7, -9, and -10 of BTV_2_AUS_2008 were most closely related to the cognate segments of viruses from Taiwan and Asia and not other Australian viruses, supporting the conclusion that BTV_2 entered Australia recently. The Australian BTV_15_AUS_1982 prototype was revealed to be unusual among the Australian BTV isolates, with Seg-3 and -8 distantly related to other BTV sequences from all serotypes.
The full-genome sequence of the bluetongue virus serotype 1 (BTV-1) strain Y863, the first BTV-1 isolate of Eastern origin found in China, was determined. The virus was isolated from sheep during a severe outbreak of bluetongue in Shizhong County, Yunnan Province, southwest China, in 1979. The total size of the BTV-1 strain Y863 genome is 19,170 bp. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that it belongs to the major “Eastern” BTV topotype. The sequence information provided here will help in understanding the geographical origin and spread of this Chinese isolate of BTV-1, as well as aid in its comparison with global isolates of BTV-1 from sheep, cattle, and other host species origins.
In mid September 2008, clinical signs of bluetongue (particularly coronitis) were observed in cows on three different farms in eastern Netherlands (Luttenberg, Heeten, and Barchem), two of which had been vaccinated with an inactivated BTV-8 vaccine (during May-June 2008). Bluetongue virus (BTV) infection was also detected on a fourth farm (Oldenzaal) in the same area while testing for export. BTV RNA was subsequently identified by real time RT-PCR targeting genome-segment (Seg-) 10, in blood samples from each farm. The virus was isolated from the Heeten sample (IAH “dsRNA virus reference collection” [dsRNA-VRC] isolate number NET2008/05) and typed as BTV-6 by RT-PCR targeting Seg-2. Sequencing confirmed the virus type, showing an identical Seg-2 sequence to that of the South African BTV-6 live-vaccine-strain. Although most of the other genome segments also showed very high levels of identity to the BTV-6 vaccine (99.7 to 100%), Seg-10 showed greatest identity (98.4%) to the BTV-2 vaccine (RSAvvv2/02), indicating that NET2008/05 had acquired a different Seg-10 by reassortment. Although Seg-7 from NET2008/05 was also most closely related to the BTV-6 vaccine (99.7/100% nt/aa identity), the Seg-7 sequence derived from the blood sample of the same animal (NET2008/06) was identical to that of the Netherlands BTV-8 (NET2006/04 and NET2007/01). This indicates that the blood contained two different Seg-7 sequences, one of which (from the BTV-6 vaccine) was selected during virus isolation in cell-culture. The predominance of the BTV-8 Seg-7 in the blood sample suggests that the virus was in the process of reassorting with the northern field strain of BTV-8. Two genome segments of the virus showed significant differences from the BTV-6 vaccine, indicating that they had been acquired by reassortment event with BTV-8, and another unknown parental-strain. However, the route by which BTV-6 and BTV-8 entered northern Europe was not established.
Bluetongue (BT) is a vector-borne disease of ruminants caused by bluetongue virus that is transmitted by biting midges (Culicoides spp.). In 2006, the introduction of BTV serotype 8 (BTV-8) caused a severe epidemic in Western and Central Europe. The principal effective veterinary measure in response to BT was believed to be vaccination accompanied by other measures such as movement restrictions and surveillance. As the number of vaccine doses available at the start of the vaccination campaign was rather uncertain, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the Dutch agricultural industry wanted to evaluate several different vaccination strategies. This study aimed to rank eight vaccination strategies based on their efficiency (i.e. net costs in relation to prevented losses or benefits) for controlling the bluetongue virus serotype 8 epidemic in 2008.
An economic model was developed that included the Dutch professional cattle, sheep and goat sectors together with the hobby farms. Strategies were evaluated based on the least cost - highest benefit frontier, the benefit-cost ratio and the total net returns. Strategy F, where all adult sheep at professional farms in the Netherlands would be vaccinated was very efficient at lowest costs, whereas strategy D, where additional to all adult sheep at professional farms also all adult cattle in the four Northern provinces would be vaccinated, was also very efficient but at a little higher costs. Strategy C, where all adult sheep and cattle at professional farms in the whole of the Netherlands would be vaccinated was also efficient but again at higher costs.
This study demonstrates that a financial analysis differentiates between vaccination strategies and indicates important decision rules based on efficiency.
Bluetongue (BT), caused by Bluetongue virus (BTV), is an economically important disease affecting sheep, deer, cattle, and goats. Since 1998, a series of BT outbreaks have spread across much of southern and central Europe. To study why the epidemiology of the virus happens to change, it is important to fully know the mechanisms resulting in its genetic diversity. Gene mutation and segment reassortment have been considered as the key forces driving the evolution of BTV. However, it is still unknown whether intragenic recombination can occur and contribute to the process in the virus. We present here several BTV groups containing mosaic genes to reveal that intragenic recombination can take place between the virus strains and play a potential role in bringing novel BTV lineages.
Bluetongue (BT) is an arthropod-borne viral disease, which primarily affects ruminants in tropical and temperate regions of the world. Twenty six bluetongue virus (BTV) serotypes have been recognised worldwide, including nine from Europe and fifteen in the United States. Identification of BTV serotype is important for vaccination programmes and for BTV epidemiology studies. Traditional typing methods (virus isolation and serum or virus neutralisation tests (SNT or VNT)) are slow (taking weeks, depend on availability of reference virus-strains or antisera) and can be inconclusive. Nucleotide sequence analyses and phylogenetic comparisons of genome segment 2 (Seg-2) encoding BTV outer-capsid protein VP2 (the primary determinant of virus serotype) were completed for reference strains of BTV-1 to 26, as well as multiple additional isolates from different geographic and temporal origins. The resulting Seg-2 database has been used to develop rapid (within 24 h) and reliable RT–PCR-based typing assays for each BTV type. Multiple primer-pairs (at least three designed for each serotype) were widely tested, providing an initial identification of serotype by amplification of a cDNA product of the expected size. Serotype was confirmed by sequencing of the cDNA amplicons and phylogenetic comparisons to previously characterised reference strains. The results from RT-PCR and sequencing were in perfect agreement with VNT for reference strains of all 26 BTV serotypes, as well as the field isolates tested. The serotype-specific primers showed no cross-amplification with reference strains of the remaining 25 serotypes, or multiple other isolates of the more closely related heterologous BTV types. The primers and RT–PCR assays developed in this study provide a rapid, sensitive and reliable method for the identification and differentiation of the twenty-six BTV serotypes, and will be updated periodically to maintain their relevance to current BTV distribution and epidemiology (http://www.reoviridae.org/dsRNA_virus_proteins/ReoID/rt-pcr-primers.htm).
The Bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) strain, which emerged in Europe in 2006, had an unusually high ability to cause foetal infection in pregnant ruminants. Other serotypes of BTV had already been present in Europe for more than a decade, but transplacental transmission of these strains had never been demonstrated. To determine whether transplacental transmission is a unique feature of BTV-8 we compared the incidence and pathological consequences of transplacental transmission of BTV-8 to that of BTV-1. Nine pregnant ewes were infected with either BTV-8 or BTV-1. The BTV strains used for the infection were field strains isolated on embryonated chicken eggs and passaged twice on mammalian cells. Blood samples were taken to monitor the viraemia in the ewes. Four weeks after the infection, the foetuses were examined for pathological changes and for the presence of BTV. BTV-8 could be demonstrated in 12 foetuses (43%) from 5 ewes (56%). %). BTV-1 was detected in 14 foetuses (82%) from 6 ewes (67%). Pathological changes were mainly found in the central nervous system. In the BTV-8 group, lympho-histiocytic infiltrates, gliosis and slight vacuolation of the neuropil were found. BTV-1infection induced a severe necrotizing encephalopathy and severe meningitis, with macroscopic hydranencephaly or porencephaly in 8 foetuses. In our experimental setting, using low passaged virus strains, BTV-1 was able to induce transplacental transmission to a higher incidence compared to BTV-8, causing more severe pathology.
The full genome sequence (19,177 bp) of an Indian strain (IND1988/02) of bluetongue virus (BTV) serotype 23 was determined. This virus was isolated from a sheep that had been killed during a severe bluetongue outbreak that occurred in Rahuri, Maharashtra State, western India, in 1988. Phylogenetic analyses of these data demonstrate that most of the genome segments from IND1988/02 belong to the major “eastern” BTV topotype. However, genome segment 5 belongs to the major “western” BTV topotype, demonstrating that IND1988/02 is a reassortant. This may help to explain the increased virulence that was seen during this outbreak in 1988. Genome segment 5 of IND1988/02 shows >99% sequence identity with some other BTV isolates from India (e.g., BTV-3 IND2003/08), providing further evidence of the existence and circulation of reassortant strains on the subcontinent.
A murine hybridoma antibody, 6C2A.4.2, previously characterized as an immunoglobulin G class 2a that binds in radioimmunoassay to bluetongue virus serotype 17 (BTV-17) but not the other 19 BTV serotypes, neutralizes BTV-17, inhibits hemagglutination with BTV-17, and precipitates viral polypeptides 2 and 3 from BTV-17-infected cells, was produced as an ascites in the peritoneal cavities of hybridoma-inoculated mice. This ascitic fluid, but not those containing other, non-neutralizing anti-BTV-17 antibodies of the same isotype, provided serotype-specific passive protection against BTV-17-induced death of neonatal mice. Antibody 6C2A.4.2-containing ascitic fluid was injected intravenously into sheep that were later inoculated with BTV-17. These sheep remained free of clinical signs, did not develop viremia or detectable levels of antibodies reactive in the immunodiffusion test used for routine BTV diagnosis in the United States, and developed only low levels of neutralizing antibodies. Control animals became viremic and developed immunodiffusion test reactions and high levels of neutralizing antibodies during recovery, and two of three had lesions and fevers. These results provide evidence that antibodies directed against a single epitope on BTV-17 can prevent bluetongue disease.
We investigated the effects of pharmacological and lentivirus-induced immunosuppression on bluetongue virus (BTV) pathogenesis as a mechanism for virus persistence and induction of clinical disease. Immunologically normal and immunosuppressed sheep were infected subcutaneously with BTV serotype 3 (BTV-3), a foreign isolate with unknown pathogenicity in North American livestock, and with North American serotype 11 (BTV-11). Erythrocyte-associated BTV RNA was detected earlier and at greater concentrations in sheep treated with immunosuppressive drugs. Similarly, viral RNA and infectious virus were detected in blood monocytes earlier and at higher frequency in immunosuppressed animals: as many as 1 in 970 monocytes revealed BTV RNA at peak viremia, compared to <1 in 105 monocytes from immunocompetent sheep. Animals infected with BTV-3 had a higher virus burden in monocytes and lesions of greater severity than those infected with BTV-11. BTV RNA was detected by in situ hybridization in vascular endothelial cells and cells of monocyte lineage, but only in tissues from immunocompromised animals, and was most abundant in animals infected with BTV-3. In contrast, reverse transcription-in situ PCR showed BTV RNA from both viral serotypes in high numbers of tissue leukocytes and vascular endothelial cells from both immunosuppressed and, to a lesser extent, immunocompetent animals. Collectively, these findings show that BTV infection is widely distributed during acute infection but replication is highly restricted in animals with normal immunity. These findings also suggest that in addition to virulence factors that define viral serotypes, immunosuppression could play a role in the natural history of orbivirus infection, allowing for higher virus burden, increased virus persistence, and greater potential for acquisition of virus by the arthropod vector.