Temporal detection of equine herpesvirus infections of a cohort of mares and their foals

Stephanie A. Bell, Udeni B R Balasuriya, Ian Gardner, Peter A Barry, William D Wilson, Gregory L. Ferraro, Nigel J Maclachlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study were to estimate the prevalence of equine herpesviruses (EHV) 1-5 in the nasal secretions (NS) of a cohort of 12 mares and their foals from birth to 6 months of age, estimate the prevalence of EHV-1-5 infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of selected foals, and investigate phylogenetic relationships amongst the various strains of EHV-2 and 5. Virus-specific PCR assays were used to detect EHV-1-5 in NS and PBMC. A homologous portion of the glycoprotein B (gB) gene of the various strains of EHV-2 and 5 was sequenced and compared. EHV-2, 4, and 5 were all detected in NS from the horses, but only EHV-4 was associated with respiratory disease (P = 0.005). EHV-2 and 5 infections were both common, but foals shed EHV-2 in their NS earlier in life than EHV-5 (P = 0.01). Latent EHV-2 and 5 infections were detected in the PBMC of 75 and 88%, respectively, of the foals at approximately 6 months of age. The strains of EHV-2 shed in the NS of individual horses were more genetically heterogeneous than the strains of EHV-5 (95.5-99.3% versus 98.8-99.3% nucleotide identity, respectively). One-month-old foals typically shed strains of EHV-2 that were identical to those infecting their dams whereas older foals often shed virus strains that were different from those of their dams. Although herpesvirus infections were ubiquitous in this cohort of horses, there were distinct clinical consequences and clear epidemiological differences between infections with the different viruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 10 2006


  • Equine herpesviruses
  • PCR
  • Phylogeny

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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