Full viral genome sequencing and phylogenomic analysis of feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1) in cheetahs (acinonyx jubatus)

Morgan E. Marino, Melanie A. Mironovich, Nikole E. Ineck, Scott B. Citino, Jessica A. Emerson, David J. Maggs, Lyndon M. Coghill, Edward J. Dubovi, Rachel C. Turner, Renee T. Carter, Andrew C. Lewin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1) is endemic in captive cheetahs and sporadically causes devastating disease. Modified live vaccines (MLV), intended for use in domestic cats, are used in some captive cheetah populations and have been anecdotally linked to disease in certain subpopulations. Ten FHV-1 isolates from ten captive cheetahs and one isolate from an MLV used to inoculate four of the host animals were analyzed. Viral DNA was extracted for full-genome sequencing by Illumina MiSeq with viral genomes then used for phylogenomic and recombinational analyses. The FHV-1 shed by vaccinated cheetahs were almost identical to the MLV, with few variants among viral genomes. Eight cheetah FHV-1 isolates and the MLV were grouped in a clade along with FHV-1 isolates from domestic cats in the USA. The remaining two cheetah FHV-1 isolates (unknown host vaccine status) were not associated with a clade. The likely ancestral origin of these two isolates involves recombination events between Australian domestic cat and cheetah FHV-1 isolates. Collectively, these data suggest that the MLV is capable of causing clinical disease and viral shedding in some cheetahs and represents evidence of interspecies transmission of virus between domestic and wild cats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2307
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cheetah
  • Feline herpesvirus
  • Genome sequencing
  • Herpes
  • Modified live vaccine
  • Phylogenomic
  • Vaccines
  • Varicellovirus
  • Veterinary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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