The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and co-cultivation were used to identify the lymphoreticular system as the site of latency of equid herpesvirus I (EHV-1). Primers for PCR were designed from aligned nucleotide sequences of the glycoprotein gB genes to amplify the same region of both the EHV-1 and EHV-4 genomes. Subsequent restriction digests using specific enzymes distinguished the amplified fragments of the EHV-1 genome from those of the EHV-4 genome. Ten weeks following an experimental infection of five ponies with EHV-1, latent virus was detected by PCR and recovered by co-cultivation, predominantly from lymphoid tissues draining the respiratory tract. Significantly, latent EHV-1 also persisted in peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL). Latent EHV-4, presumably from a preceding natural infection, was also detected in some tissues, including PBL, from all animals. Of additional interest was the recovery of EHV-1 and -4 only in the presence of the ubiquitous EHV-2.


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