1887

Abstract

The avian herpesvirus Marek’s disease virus (MDV) has a worldwide distribution and is responsible for T-lymphoma in chickens. The question as to whether MDV poses a public health hazard to humans was first raised when the virus was isolated in 1967. However, no irrefutable results have been obtained in immunological and virological studies. We used a nested-PCR to detect MDV DNA in human serum samples. A total of 202 serum samples from individuals exposed and not exposed to poultry was tested by nested-PCR for a target sequence located in the MDV gD gene. The assay system was specific and sensitive, making it possible to detect a single copy of the target sequence. Forty-one (20%) of the 202 serum samples tested positive for MDV DNA. The prevalence of MDV DNA was not significantly different in the group exposed to poultry and the group not exposed to poultry. There was also no difference due to age or sex. Alignment of the 41 gD sequences amplified from human sera with eight gD sequences amplified from MDV-infected chicken sera showed a maximum nucleotide divergence of 1·65%. However, four ‘hot-spot’ mutation sites were identified, defining four groups. Interestingly, two groups contained only human MDV-gD sequences. The status of the MDV genome detected in human blood is discussed.

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2001-01-01
2019-10-17
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