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Prevalence of antibodies against Bubaline herpesvirus (BuHV-1) among Mediterranean water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) with implications in buffalo trade

Caruso, C., Prato, R., Ingravalle, F., Vecchio, D., Sciarra, A., Ternavasio, M., Ceccarelli, L., Martucciello, A., Galiero, G., De Carlo, E., Masoero, L.
The Veterinary quarterly 2016 v.36 no.4 pp. 184-188
Bovine herpesvirus 1, Bubalus bubalis, absorbance, animal health, antibodies, antigens, buffaloes, cattle, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, false positive results, farms, financial economics, glycoproteins, herds, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, piedmont, reproduction, seroconversion, trade, Italy
Background: Both Bovine herpesvirus (BoHV-1) and Bubaline herpesvirus (BuHV-1) have been reported to cross the species barrier. Antibody seroconversion in glycoprotein E (gE) blocking ELISA during BuHV-1 infection has been documented. Recent diagnostic efforts have focused on the development and application of discriminatory tests to distinguish between infections with BoHV-1 and BuHV-1. Objective: To evaluate the impact and distribution of these two infections in water buffalo farms in two regions (Piedmont (n = 3) and Campania (n = 10), Italy) where infectious bovine rhinotracheitis control programs have been implemented. Animals and methods: Sampling was carried out on 13 buffalo farms comprising 1089 animals using specific gE-indirect ELISA's test able to discriminate among BoHV-1 and BuHV-1 infections. Results: 59.0% of animals reacted positive to ELISA (irrespective of whether BoHV-1 or BuHV-1 antigen was used) and 86.4% of these were reactive to BuHV-1 only, whereas 11.8% showed absorbance values for both antigens and were classified as inconclusive. There was a statistically significant age-related difference in BuHV-1 infection rates but not in overall individual (47% vs. 58%) or herd prevalence (100% vs. 90%) of infection between the two regions. Conclusion: The low percentage of sera reactive to BoHV-1 (1.8%, 12/643) indicates that BuHV-1 may be the main circulating alphaherpesvirus infection in Mediterranean water buffalo in the two study areas. Since Bubalus bubalis is included in Directive 64/432/EEC on animal health problems affecting intra-community trade in bovine animals, diagnostic testing with nonspecific ELISA for BoHV-1 infection in buffalo may yield false-positive reactions. This scenario could lead to economic losses and hamper buffalo trade and movement, particularly for reproduction purposes.