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Bluetongue virus serotype 6 in Europe in 2008 - Emergence and disappearance of an unexpected non-virulent BTV

Rijn, P.A. van; Geurts, Y.; Spek, A.N. van der; Veldman, D.; Gennip, H.G.P. van

Samenvatting

Bluetongue viruses (BTVs) could invade N-W Europe similar to BTV serotype 8 (BTV8/net06), since the source and route of introduction of this virus has not been solved. Therefore, the Dutch survey for Bluetongue by PCR testing was extended by further analysis of PCR positives to identify the involved BTV. In late August 2008, BTV was reported with 12 nucleotide differences in the S10 amplicon (S10 genotyping). This virus was identified as serotype 6, here named BTV6/net08. Promptly, serotype specific real-time PCR tests were developed for serotypes 1, 6, and 8 (S2 genotyping). Agreement was found between results by S10- and S2 genotyping. Further, BTV1 was identified by both S10- and S2 genotyping in one imported animal. After initial discovery of BTV6 in the Netherlands, animals from 18 holdings tested PCR positive for BTV6/net08 in 2008. Remarkably only one or two PCR positive animals per holding were found. Serum neutralization tests did not result in the discovery of more BTV6 infected animals. Retrospective studies indicated no evidence for infections by BTV6/net08 prior to the first discovery. Experimental infections with BTV6/net08 did not cause clinical disease in sheep, calves and cattle, except for a very short fever in some animals. This clearly showed that the vaccine-related BTV6/net08 is not virulent. BTV6/net08 was not found by passive and active surveys in the years after its discovery. Apparently, BTV6/net08 was not efficiently transmitted by endemic species of Culicoides in N-W Europe, and disappeared without the need of any control measure.