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Research Note: Natural Canine Bluetongue Infection?

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)

Infectious Disease

|November 2015

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Bluetongue virus (BTV) is the arthropod-transmitted pathogen that causes bluetongue, an economically important disease infecting wild and domestic ruminants. There are 26 distinct recognized serotypes. Variation in disease severity depends on differences in virulence among specific viral strains as well as host, vector, and environmental factors. BTV can also infect domestic dogs; this was discovered when dogs were vaccinated with a BTV-contaminated vaccine. It is speculated but not demonstrated that canid infection can also occur through ingestion of BTV-contaminated meat or natural infection by the Culicoides spp vector. Serologic surveys demonstrate additional canine BTV infections, some in dogs not vaccinated or fed raw meat.

In this report, BTV serotype 11 was isolated from 2 domestic canine abortion cases and 6 field isolates. Whole-genome sequencing was performed. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that both domestic canine isolates were nearly identical and were similar to field isolates identified in white-tailed deer. This supports the hypothesis of disease transmission to the dogs by vector-borne natural infection, although BTV-contaminated fetal bovine serum, used in artificial insemination, could not be excluded as a possible cause. This research expands the list of BTV-11 available sequences. Determining the epidemiology of BTV is difficult; there is no official surveillance program, no diagnostic tools exist for acquiring strain variations from serotype, and subclinical infection is typical. As BTV infection can have serious economic implications, further investigations and improved surveillance strategies are indicated.

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