Bluetongue (BT) virus, an orbivirus of the Reoviridae family encompassing 24 known serotypes, is transmitted to ruminants via certain species of biting midges (Culicoides spp.) and causes thrombo-hemorrhagic fevers mainly in sheep. During the 20th century, BTV was endemic in sub-tropical regions but in the last ten years, new strains of BTV (serotypes 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 16) have appeared in Europe leading to a devastating disease in naive sheep and bovine herds (serotype 8). BTV enters into insect cells via the viral inner core VP7 protein and in mammalian cells via the external capsid VP2 haemagglutinin, which is the major determinant of BTV serotype and neutralization. BTV replicates in mononuclear phagocytes and endothelial cells where it induces expression of inflammatory cytokines as well as apoptosis. BTV can remain as nonreplicating entities concealed in erythrocytes for up to five months. Homologous protection against one BTV serotype involves neutralizing antibodies and T cell responses directed to the external VP2 and VP5 proteins, whereas heterologous protection is supported by T cells directed to the NS1 non structural protein and inner core proteins. Classical inactivated vaccines directed to a specific serotype generate protective immunity and may help control current epidemic situations. New recombinant vaccine strategies that allow differentiating infected from vaccinated animals and that generate cross protective immunity are urgently needed to efficiently combat this worldwide threatening disease.
- Viral haemorrhagic disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas