An avirulent, novel variant of equine arteritis virus (EAV; CA95G) was isolated from the semen of a persistently infected Standardbred stallion. The CA95G virus caused subclinical infection and seroconversion in susceptible horses, and virus was isolated only once from blood and nasal secretions collected from 6 experimentally infected horses. Sequence analysis of genes encoding the known EAV structural proteins shows that this highly attenuated strain of EAV is genetically similar to virulent field strains of EAV and, in particular, to a strain of EAV that was isolated during an outbreak of equine viral arteritis in western Canada in 1986. Not only is the carrier stallion the critical natural reservoir of EAV, but genetic diversity of the virus is generated in the course of persistent infection of carrier stallions. The subtle genetic changes that facilitate and maintain persistent EAV infection of the stallion's reproductive tract likely influence phenotypic properties of the virus such as virulence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology