Sequence analysis of bluetongue virus serotype 8 from the Netherlands 2006 and comparison to other European strains

During 2006 the first outbreak of bluetongue ever recorded in northern Europe started in Belgium and the Netherlands, spreading to Luxemburg, Germany and north-east France. The virus overwintered (2006–2007) reappearing during May–June 2007 with greatly increased severity in affected areas, spreading further into Germany and France, reaching Denmark, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the UK. Infected animals were also imported into Poland, Italy, Spain and the UK. An initial isolate from the Netherlands (NET2006/04) was identified as BTV-8 by RT-PCR assays targeting genome segment 2. The full genome of NET2006/04 was sequenced and compared to selected European isolates, South African vaccine strains and other BTV-8 strains, indicating that it originated in sub-Saharan Africa. Although NET2006/04 showed high levels of nucleotide identity with other ‘western’ BTV strains, it represents a new introduction and was not derived from the BTV-8 vaccine, although its route of entry into Europe has not been established.

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