1887

Abstract

Non-primate hepacivirus (NPHV), a recently discovered hepatotropic virus infecting horses, is phylogenetically the closest known homologue of hepatitis C virus (HCV). The main route for acquiring HCV infection in childhood is vertical transmission. However, nothing is known about the natural mode of transmission for NPHV. To investigate the possibility of vertically transmitted NPHV infection in horses, 20 Thoroughbred broodmares and their foals were monitored during foaling season 2015 until 6 months post-partum. Prepartal serum was taken from the mares, and during foaling umbilical cord blood and colostrum samples were collected. Postnatal serum samples were taken from the foals after delivery. In addition, serum was taken at 3 and 6 months after foaling from all mares and foals. Samples were analysed for the presence of NPHV RNA by quantitative real-time PCR and for the presence of anti-NPHV NS3 antibodies by luciferase immunoprecipitation system. Identified NPHV isolates were sequenced and phylogenetic analysis of the viral glycoproteins was used to track the course of naturally occurring infections and the circulation of distinct isolates within the herd. At parturition, 16 mares were seropositive, including four viraemic mares. Vertical transmission occurred in one of these four mare–foal pairs. Interestingly, NPHV isolates of newly infected foals and mares after 3 and 6 months cluster in their respective pasture herds suggesting another horizontal route of transmission.

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2016-10-13
2020-01-20
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