Molecular characterization of peste des petits ruminants viruses in the Marmara Region of Turkey

Recent outbreaks of Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) in the Marmara region of Turkey including the European part of Thrace is important due to its proximity to Europe (Greece and Bulgaria) and the potential threat of spread of PPR into mainland Europe. In order to investigate the circulation of PPRV in the region suspect clinical and necropsy samples were collected from domestic sheep (n=211) in the Marmara region of Turkey between 2011 and 2012. PPR virus (PPRV) genome was detected in 10.4% (22 out of 211) of sheep samples by real-time RT-PCR, and PPR virus was isolated from lungs of two sheep that died from infection. Of the 22 positive samples nine were used for partial N gene amplification and sequencing. The phylogenetic analyses indicated that the virus belongs to lineage IV, the same lineage that is circulating in eastern and central part of Turkey since its first official report in 1999. In addition, samples from 100 cattle were collected to investigate potential subclinical circulation of PPRV. However all were found to be negative by real-time RT-PCR, and also in serological tests indicating the large ruminants were likely not exposed or infected with the virus. The impact of these findings on the potential threat of spread of PPR to Europe including the first PPR outbreak in Europe in Bulgaria on 23rd June 2018 is discussed.

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