Towards understanding bluetongue outbreaks

August 14, 2008

A recent article published in Virology, reports the identification of a bluetongue virus strain that caused the northern European Bluetongue outbreak in 2006. Comparison of the virus strain with the sequences of other previously isolated strains showed that it originated in sub-Saharan Africa, rather than from vaccine strains or strains circulating in southern Europe.

Bluetongue (BT) disease or catarrhal fever is a non-contagious, insect borne viral disease of ruminants, mainly sheep. It is characterized by high fever, excessive salivation, swelling of the head and neck which can lead to cyanosis of the tongue (after which the disease is named). BT is caused by the bluetongue virus (BTV) and due to its economic significance BTV has been the subject of extensive molecular, genetic and structural studies.

The disease has been observed in Australia, the USA, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and southern Europe. Its occurrence is seasonal in the affected countries, subsiding when temperature drop and hard frosts kill the midges that transmit the disease. It has been spreading northward since the late 90s, perhaps as a result of global warming.

In August 2006, the record temperatures experienced in northern Europe coincided with the first outbreak of BT in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, and much of Germany. In the article Peter Mertens and 24 co-authors from six different institutes describe the sequence analysis of the full genome of this BTV strain and compare it to other BTV strains (Virology, doi:10.1016/j.virol.2008.04.028). Their results indicate that despite the high levels of nucleotide identity with other European strains, it represents a new strain introduction, originating from sub-Saharan Africa.

"Such timely and increasingly important insights into the origins of emerging viruses will lead not only to an increased understanding of how viruses like BTV spread, but also to rational vaccine development", said Barbara Sherry, one of the Editors of Virology.

Source: Elsevier

Explore further: Fast-track bluetongue vaccine could save millions for the European economy

Related Stories

Fast-track bluetongue vaccine could save millions for the European economy

October 9, 2014
Scientists have developed a faster method of producing an effective vaccine for the devastating animal disease caused by Bluetongue virus (BTV); a virus that has infected and killed thousands of livestock throughout the world.

How real-time sequencing of viruses can prevent outbreaks of infectious disease

October 2, 2017
It's been 10 years since bluetongue virus (BTV) arrived in Britain for the very first time. With UK conditions mirroring those in Holland where the virus was already circulating, its arrival had been widely anticipated – ...

Recommended for you

A new theory on reducing cardiovascular disease risk in binge drinkers

January 23, 2018
A new study shows that binge drinkers have increased levels of a biomarker molecule—microRNA-21—that may contribute to poor vascular function.

Flu infection study increases understanding of natural immunity

January 23, 2018
People with higher levels of antibodies against the stem portion of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein have less viral shedding when they get the flu, but do not have fewer or less severe signs of illness, according ...

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.