, Volume 123, Issue 3-4, pp 351-366

Pathogenesis of equine herpesvirus-1 in specific pathogen-free foals: primary and secondary infections and reactivation

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Summary

Six specific pathogen-free foals shown to be free of equine herpesvirus-1 and 4 (EHV-1 and -4) and lacking in maternally-derived antibodies were used to investigate the pathogenesis of EHV-1 in horses. Following primary intranasal inoculation with EHV-1 all foals showed signs of a mild, self-limiting upper respiratory tract infection. A leucopenia was observed, comprising both a lymphopenia and neutropenia. Virus was isolated from nasal mucus and buffy coat cells over several days during the clinical episode and after the animals became clinically normal. Notwithstanding the mildness of the clinical disease, virus was not eliminated completely and intravenous administration of dexamethasone resulted in reactivation of latent EHV-1 in animals which had received only a single dose of the virus. In a second infection given to four foals, 61 days after the primary inoculation, no clinical signs were observed, haematological changes were minimal and viraemia was absent.