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Cross-sectional study indicates nearly a quarter of sheep population in Karnataka state of India is infected with ovine herpesvirus 2

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In a cross-sectional study, prevalence of ovine herpesvirus 2 (family: Herpesviridae, subfamily: Gammaherpesvirinae, genus Macavirus and species: Ovine herpesvirus 2) infection was estimated in sheep population of Karnataka state in India. Based on the three stage cluster sampling method, whole blood samples (356) of sheep were collected from 11 sheep-dense districts of the state. The samples were tested for presence of OvHV-2 genome by recommended hemi-nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The true prevalence of OvHV-2 infection in sheep population of Karnataka was 24.44 %. Of the 11 district surveyed, highest true prevalence of 42.42 % (CI 25.56–59.29) was found in Raichur followed by Tumkur (39.02 %, CI 24.09–53.96). Inverse distance weighted interpolation of prevalence indicated that OvHV-2 prevalence within a given district is not uniform and there are areas of varied prevalence. The nucleotide sequence of the 422 bp DNA fragment, amplified in PCR, matched 99 % with OvHV-2 reference sequence and other sequences reported from India. Grouping of OvHV-2 sequences obtained from Karnataka with those from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir in the neighbour joining tree indicated a close relationship among the OvHV-2s circulating in India. This is the first study in the country where systematic screening of sheep population of a state for the presence of OvHV-2 infection has been carried out, which indicated a widespread prevalence calling for an urgent need for policy measures to prevent economic losses due to the disease in susceptible cattle and buffalo species.

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The authors would like to thank Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi for provision of funds, Director, NIVEDI and Director, NIHSAD, Bhopal for encouragement and necessary infrastructural facilities. We also thank Dr. K. P. Suresh, Biostatistician, NIVEDI for help in the sampling strategy. Thanks are also due to Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, Govt of Karnataka for help during the survey. We also acknowledge Dr. C. Pasare, University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center, USA for critical reading of the manuscript.

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Premkrishnan, G.N., Sood, R., Hemadri, D. et al. Cross-sectional study indicates nearly a quarter of sheep population in Karnataka state of India is infected with ovine herpesvirus 2. VirusDis. 26, 180–188 (2015).

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