Genetic diversity and comparison of diagnostic tests for characterization of foot-and-mouth disease virus strains from Pakistan 2008 - 2012

We report the laboratory analysis of 125 clinical samples from suspected cases of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle and Asian buffalo collected in Pakistan between 2008 and 2012. Of these samples, 89 were found to contain viral RNA by rRT-PCR, of which 88 were also found to contain infectious FMD virus (FMDV) by virus isolation (VI), with strong correlation between these tests (? = 0.96). Samples that were VI-positive were serotyped by antigen detection ELISA (Ag-ELISA) and VP1 sequence acquisition and analysis. Sequence data identified FMDV serotypes A (n = 13), O (n = 36) and Asia-1 (n = 41), including three samples from which both serotypes Asia-1 and O were detected. Serotype A viruses were classified within three different Iran-05 sublineages: HER-10, FAR-11 and ESF-10. All serotype Asia-1 were within Group VII (Sindh-08 lineage), in a genetic clade that differs from viruses isolated prior to 2010. All serotypes O were classified as PanAsia-2 within two different sublineages: ANT-10 and BAL-09. Using VP1 sequencing as the gold standard for serotype determination, the overall sensitivity of Ag-ELISA to correctly determine serotype was 74%, and serotype-specific sensitivity was 8% for serotype A, 88% for Asia-1 and 89% for O. Serotype-specific specificity was 100% for serotype A, 93% for Asia-1 and 94% for O. Interestingly, 12 of 13 serotype A viruses were not detected by Ag-ELISA. This study confirms earlier accounts of regional genetic diversity of FMDV in Pakistan and highlights the importance of continued validation of diagnostic tests for rapidly evolving pathogens such as FMDV.

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