The phylogenetic analysis of VP1 genomic region in foot-and-mouth disease virus serotype O isolates in Sri Lanka reveals the existence of 'Srl-97', a newly named endemic lineage

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) has devastated the cattle industry in Sri Lanka many times in the past. Despite its seriousness, limited attempts have been made to understand the disease to ameliorate its effects-current recommendation for vaccines being based solely on immunological assessments rather than on molecular identification. The general belief is that the cattle population in Sri Lanka acquired the FMD virus (FMDV) strains via introductions from India. However, there could be endemic FMDV lineages circulating in Sri Lanka. To infer the phylogenetic relationships of the FMDV strains in the island, we sequenced the VP1 genomic region of the virus isolates collected during the 2014 outbreak together with a few reported cases in 2012 and 1997 and compared them to VP1 sequences from South Asia. The FMDV strains collected in the 2014 outbreak belonged to the lineage, Ind-2001d, of the topotype, ME-SA. The strains collected in 2012 and 1997 belonged to another lineage called 'unnamed' by the World Reference Laboratory for Foot and Mouth Disease (WRLFMD). Based on the present analysis, we designate the lineage 'unnamed' as Srl-97 which we found endemic to Sri Lanka. The evolutionary rates of Srl-97 and Ind-2001d in Sri Lanka were estimated to be 0.0004 and 0.0046 substitutions/site/year, respectively, suggesting that Srl-97 evolves slowly.

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