Neuronal and lymphoid tissues of 15 randomly selected horses were analysed post mortem by liquid nested-PCR to study the tropism of equine herpesvirus 4 (EHV-4). In four animals the trigeminal ganglia and in one case the lung were positive. Using a direct in situ PCR the EHV-4 genome was localized in the nuclei of neurons and in the bronchiolar as well as alveolar epithelium of the lung. In none of these tissues could infectious virus or viral antigens be detected. Applying the more sensitive liquid RT-PCR, however, an acute infection was demonstrated in one of the trigeminal ganglia by amplification of viral transcripts coding for glycoprotein B. The failure to detect these transcripts in the other trigeminal ganglia and the lung indicates a latent infection. This report formally proves that, like other members of the Alpha-herpesvirinae, EHV-4 establishes latency in the trigeminal ganglia.


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