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.
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.
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.