Foot-and-mouth disease in Southern Ghana: occurrence and molecular characterization of circulating viruses

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is considered to be endemic in Ghana. However, our knowledge of the local epidemiology of the disease is restricted by a lack of serological information and data for characterized viruses causing field outbreaks. In order to improve our understanding of the prevailing situation, this study was initiated to establish the FMD viruses (FMDV) circulating in the country. During 2016, sera (n = 93) and epithelia/oral swab (n = 20) samples were collected from cattle from four districts in Southern Ghana that experienced FMD outbreaks. Sera were analyzed using the PrioCHECK® FMDV non-structural protein (NSP) ELISA whereas the epithelia/oral swab samples were examined by virus isolation, antigen ELISA, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and sequencing of VP1 followed by phylogenetic analysis. Assay for antibodies against FMDV NSPs provided evidence of exposure to FMDV in 88.2% (82/93) of the sera tested. Serotypes O and A viruses were detected from clinical samples by RT-PCR and sequencing of VP1. Phylogenetic analysis of VP1 coding sequences revealed that the serotype O viruses belonged to the West Africa (WA) topotype and were most closely related to viruses from Niger and Benin, while the serotype A viruses clustered within genotype IV (G-IV) of the Africa topotype and were most closely related to viruses from Nigeria. This study provides useful information on FMDV serotypes and viral lineages that circulate in Ghana and West Africa that may aid in the formulation of effective FMD control strategies.

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