Lateral transmission of equine arteritis virus among Lipizzaner stallions in South Africa

A. J. Guthrie, P. G. Howell, J. F. Hedges, A. M. Bosman, U. B R Balasuriya, W. H. McCollum, P. J. Timoney, Nigel J Maclachlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Reasons for performing study: A serological study conducted in 1995 revealed that 7 stallions at the Lipizzaner Centre, Gauteng, South Africa, were seropositive for antibody to equine arteritis virus (EAV). A Lipizzaner stallion imported into South Africa from Yugoslavia in 1981 had previously (1988) been confirmed to be an EAV carrier. Despite being placed under life-long breeding quarantine, EAV had been transmitted between stallions at the Lipizzaner Centre. Objectives: To investigate the phylogenetic relationships between the strain of EAV shed in the semen of the original carrier stallion and strains recovered from the semen of 5 other stallions; and to investigate the means whereby lateral transmission of EAV occurred among 7 in-contact, nonbreeding stallions at the Centre. Methods: EAV was isolated from semen collected from the seropositive stallions using RK-13 cells. Viral RNA was reverse transcribed and amplified by polymerase chain reaction using ORF 5-specific primers, subjected to sequence and phylogenetic analysis. Results: Phylogenetic analysis of strains of EAV recovered from the semen of 6 persistently infected stallions confirmed that all viruses were closely related and probably derived from a common ancestor, i.e. the stallion imported from Yugoslavia. Lateral transmission subsequently occurred among 7 in-contact, nonbreeding stallions at the Centre. It is speculated that these stallions may have been exposed to virus from bedding or fomites contaminated with semen. Conclusions: These data confirm that lateral transmission of EAV can occur from shedding stallions to susceptible, incontact horses, including other stallions, which may become persistently infected with the virus. Potential relevance: The findings are consistent with lateral spread of a single, unique strain of EAV among a group; and suggest that transmission of EAV may be initiated by infection of one or more stallions with virus on bedding or other fomites contaminated with EAV- infected semen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-600
Number of pages5
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2003


  • Equine arteritis virus (EAV)
  • Horse
  • Lipizzaner
  • Persistent infection
  • Transmission
  • Viral phylogeny

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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