Original Research

Reassortment of bluetongue virus vaccine serotypes in cattle

Carien van den Bergh, Peter Coetzee, Estelle H. Venter
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 89 | a1649 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v89i0.1649 | © 2018 Carien van den Bergh, Peter Coetzee, Estelle H. Venter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 December 2017 | Published: 05 December 2018

About the author(s)

Carien van den Bergh, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Peter Coetzee, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, South Africa; and, Equine Research Centre, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Estelle H. Venter, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, South Africa; and, College of Public Health, James Cook University, Australia


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Abstract

Bluetongue is primarily a disease of sheep in South Africa, while cattle and goats are mostly subclinically infected. The viraemia of bluetongue virus in cattle lasts much longer than in sheep and the role of cattle in the epidemiology of bluetongue in South Africa is poorly understood. Bluetongue virus has a segmented double-stranded ribonucleic acid genome and reassortment of genomes is a common feature. The aim of the study was to investigate whether reassortment occurs between vaccine and field strains when simultaneously administered to cattle. Six cattle between the ages of 6 and 12 months were infected with five strains of modified live vaccine bluetongue virus and a virulent field isolate of bluetongue virus 4. Blood samples were subsequently collected daily from these animals from day 1 to day 39 post-inoculation. Viruses were directly isolated during viraemia from the buffy coat on Vero cells using the plaque forming unit method. Analysis of plaques indicated that no reassortants between virulent field and vaccine strains occurred and the virulent bluetongue virus 4 was identified as the predominant virus strain. However, a reassortant virus between two bluetongue virus vaccine strains was isolated from the buffy coat. Whole genome sequences from the vaccine viruses were compared to the suspected reassortant and it was found that segment 8 exchanged between the bluetongue virus 8 and bluetongue virus 9 vaccine strains. The use of the live-attenuated bluetongue virus multivalent vaccine in South Africa causes circulation of different vaccine serotypes in Culicoides spp. and susceptible hosts and cattle might provide the ideal host for reassortment to occur.

Keywords

bluetongue virus; reassortment; live attenuated; vaccine strains; field strains

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