Respiratory diseases cause significant economic losses (especially in the horse racing industry). The present study describes the detection and genetic characteristics of equine herpesvirus (EHV) from a total of 1497 samples from clinically healthy horses in Korea, including 926 blood samples, 187 lung tissues, and 384 nasal swabs. EHV-2 and EHV-5 were detected in 386 (41.7%; 95% CI: 38.5–44.9) and 201 (21.7%; 95% CI: 19.1–24.4) blood samples, respectively, and in 25 (13.4%; 95% CI: 8.5–18.2) and 35 (18.7%; 95% CI: 13.1–24.3) lung tissues, respectively. EHV-1 and EHV-4 were not detected in either blood or lung tissues. EHV-1, EHV-2, and EHV-5 were detected in 46 (12.0%; 95% CI: 8.7–15.2), 21 (5.5%; 95% CI: 3.2–7.7), and 43 (11.2%; 95% CI: 8.0–14.4) nasal swabs, respectively. EHV-4 was not detected in nasal swabs. Co-infection with EHV-2 and EHV-5 was detected in 11.6% (107/926) of the blood samples and 6.4% (12/187) of lung tissues. In nasal swabs, co-infection with EHV-1, EHV-2, and EHV-5 was detected in 0.8% (3/384) of samples. Phylogenetic analysis of the glycoprotein B gene showed that EHV-1, EHV-2, and EHV-5 strains demonstrated significant genetic diversity in Korea, with a nucleotide sequence identity among them that ranged from 95.7% to 100% for EHV-1, 96.2%–100% for EHV-2, and 93.8%–99.3% for EHV-5. These results are the first phylogenetic analyses of EHV-1 in Korea in nasal swabs from a nationwide population of clinically healthy horses. Both EHV-2 and EHV-5 from blood, lung tissues, and nasal swabs were also detected.
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