Analysis of bluetongue serotype 3 spread in Tunisia and discovery of a novel strain related to the bluetongue virus isolated from a commercial sheep pox vaccine



Lorusso A, Sghaier S, Di Domenico M, Barbria ME, Zaccaria G, Megdich A, Portanti O, Seliman IB, Spedicato M, Pizzurro F, Carmine I, Teodori L, Mahjoub M, Mangone I, Leone A, Hammami S, Marcacci M, Savini G.


Infect Genet Evol. 2018 Apr;59:63-71. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2018.01.025. Epub 2018 Jan 31.


Bluetongue (BT), is one of the OIE-listed major diseases of ruminants. Following the official report of BT virus serotype 3 (BTV-3) in a sheep in Cap Bon (Tunisia), blood and serum samples of ruminants were collected from some areas of Tunisia to further investigate the presence of this virus in the country. A quantitative real time RT-PCR has been first developed for the detection and quantitation of BTV-3 RNA from field specimens. Out of 62 collected blood samples, 23 were shown to be positive for BTV-3 RNA. Isolation on cell cultures was also possible from six samples. Genome sequencing revealed the circulation of two unrelated western strains of BTV-3, one circulating in Cap Bon and neighboring areas, and the other circulating nearby the border with Libya. The presence of a putative novel BTV serotype (BTV-Y TUN2017) in sheep introduced from Libya to Tunisia, genomically related to the BTV strain contaminating a commercially-available sheep pox vaccine and to BTV-26, has been also demonstrated. This finding highlights the pressing need for a prompt production and release of a novel inactivated BTV-3 vaccine to be used in case of emergence or proactively in the areas of Southern Europe at major risk of BTV introduction. The assessment of a novel vaccine will certainly exalt the role and importance of surveillance activities and collaboration with Northern African countries. CI – Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Link/DOI: 10.1016/j.meegid.2018.01.025