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Viruses 2016, 8(9), 262;

Zebra Alphaherpesviruses (EHV-1 and EHV-9): Genetic Diversity, Latency and Co-Infections

Leibniz-Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Strasse 17, Berlin 10315, Germany
Institut für Virologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Robert-von-Ostertag-Str. 7-13, Berlin 14163, Germany
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, Am Tierpark 125, Berlin 10307, Germany
Department of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin, Oertzenweg 19, Berlin 14163, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Joanna Parish
Received: 21 July 2016 / Revised: 12 September 2016 / Accepted: 14 September 2016 / Published: 20 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Viruses)
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Alphaherpesviruses are highly prevalent in equine populations and co-infections with more than one of these viruses’ strains frequently diagnosed. Lytic replication and latency with subsequent reactivation, along with new episodes of disease, can be influenced by genetic diversity generated by spontaneous mutation and recombination. Latency enhances virus survival by providing an epidemiological strategy for long-term maintenance of divergent strains in animal populations. The alphaherpesviruses equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) and 9 (EHV-9) have recently been shown to cross species barriers, including a recombinant EHV-1 observed in fatal infections of a polar bear and Asian rhinoceros. Little is known about the latency and genetic diversity of EHV-1 and EHV-9, especially among zoo and wild equids. Here, we report evidence of limited genetic diversity in EHV-9 in zebras, whereas there is substantial genetic variability in EHV-1. We demonstrate that zebras can be lytically and latently infected with both viruses concurrently. Such a co-occurrence of infection in zebras suggests that even relatively slow-evolving viruses such as equine herpesviruses have the potential to diversify rapidly by recombination. This has potential consequences for the diagnosis of these viruses and their management in wild and captive equid populations. View Full-Text
Keywords: EHV-1; EHV-9; zebra; latency; diversity; co-occurrence EHV-1; EHV-9; zebra; latency; diversity; co-occurrence

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Abdelgawad, A.; Damiani, A.; Ho, S.Y.W.; Strauss, G.; Szentiks, C.A.; East, M.L.; Osterrieder, N.; Greenwood, A.D. Zebra Alphaherpesviruses (EHV-1 and EHV-9): Genetic Diversity, Latency and Co-Infections. Viruses 2016, 8, 262.

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