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Relatedness of Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus strains isolated from harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) of various origins of the North Sea during 1988-2005

Akineden, O., Alber, J., Lammler, C., Weiss, R., Siebert, U., Foster, G., Tougaard, S., Brasseur, S.M.J.M., Reijnders, P.J.H.
Veterinary microbiology 2007 v.121 no.1-2 pp. 158-162
epidemiological studies, bacterial infections, strain differences, phylogeny, longitudinal studies, Phoca vitulina, Phocine morbillivirus, disease outbreaks, Halichoerus grypus, Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus, sequence homology, seals, animal diseases, North Sea
The present study was designed to identify 15 beta-hemolytic streptococci isolated during a period between 1988 and 2005 from nine harbour seals and six grey seals from various origins of the North Sea. All isolates were identified as Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus. The bacteria were additionally investigated for relatedness by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of PCR amplified 16S-23S rDNA intergenic spacer region and gene szp and by macrorestriction analysis of chromosomal DNA of the strains by pulsed field gel electrophoresis. The molecular analysis yielded identical or closely related patterns within the strains of the present study and with the S. equi subsp. zooepidemicus strains isolated from harbour seals of German North Sea which were investigated previously [Akineden, Ö., Hassan, A.A., Alber, J., El-Sayed, A., Estoepangestie, A.T.S., Lämmler, C., Weiss, R., Siebert, U., 2005. Phenotypic and genotypic properties of S. equi subsp. zooepidemicus isolated from harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) from the German North Sea during the phocine distemper outbreak in 2002. Vet. Microbiol. 110, 147-152]. This indicates that this single or closely related bacterial clone existed during both phocine distemper virus epidemics in 1988 and 2002 and that a direct transmission of the strains has occurred between two seal species and between seal populations of far distant regions possibly with grey seals as a vector.