Characterization of equine parvovirus in thoroughbred breeding horses from Germany
An equine parvovirus-hepatitis (EqPV-H) has been recently identified in association with equine serum hepatitis, also known as Theiler's disease. The disease was first described by Arnold Theiler in 1918 and is often observed with parenteral use of blood products in equines. However, natural ways of viral circulation and potential risk factors for transmission still remain unknown. In this study, we investigated the occurrence of EqPV-H infections in Thoroughbred horses in northern and western Germany and aimed to identify potential risk factors associated with viral infections. A total of 392 Thoroughbreds broodmares and stallions were evaluated cross-sectionally for the presence of anti-EqPV-H antibodies and EqPV-H DNA using a luciferase immunoprecipitation assay (LIPS) and a quantitative PCR, respectively. In addition, data regarding age, stud farm, breeding history, and international transportation history of each horse were collected and analysed. An occurrence of 7% EqPV-H DNA positive and 35% seropositive horses was observed in this study cohort. The systematic analysis of risk factors revealed that age, especially in the group of 11-15-year-old horses, and breeding history were potential risk factors that can influence the rate of EqPV-H infections. Subsequent phylogenetic analysis showed a high similarity on nucleotide level within the sequenced Thoroughbred samples. In conclusion, this study demonstrates circulating EqPV-H infections in Thoroughbred horses from central Europe and revealed age and breeding history as risk factors for EqPV-H infections.