Pheno- and genotypic characterization and identification of novel subtypes of Peste des Petits Ruminants virus in domestic and captive wild goats in Northern Iraq
Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) is an acute or peracute contagious transboundary viral disease that mainly affects caprine and ovine and causes significant economic impact in developing countries. After two PPR virus outbreaks in 2011 and 2014, an investigation, from August 2015 to September 2016, was carried out in Northern Iraq when an increased morbidity and mortality rates were reported in the domestic and captive wild goats. In the present study, ten domestic goat farms and seven captive wild goat herds located in seven geographical areas of Northern Iraq were clinically, pathologically, serologically and genotypically characterized to determine the prevalence and potential cause of PPR virus outbreak.
The outbreak occurred with rate of morbidity (26.1%) and mortality (11.1%) in domestic goat farms as compared to captive wild goat herds where relatively high mortality (42.9%) and low morbidity (10.9%) rates were recorded. Based on the clinical symptoms (mucopurulent nasal discharges, ulceration and erosion of oral mucosa, profuse watery diarrhea) and necropsy (hemorrhage and congestion on mucous membranes of the colon and rectum with zebra stripes lesions) results, overall, the serological test findings revealed a high frequency (47.9%) of positive samples for anti-PPRV nucleoprotein antibodies. Furthermore, the nucleoprotein (N) gene was detected in 63.2 and 89.1% of samples using conventional and reverse transcription real-time quantitative PCR assays. A phylogenetic analysis of N gene amino acid sequences clustered with the reference strain revealed lineage IV similar to the strains isolated in 2011 and 2014, respectively. However, two sub-types of lineage IV (I and II), significantly distinct from the previous strains, were also observed.
The phylogenetic analysis suggests that movements of goats are possible cause and one of the important factors responsible for the spread of virus across the region. The study results would help in improving farm management practices by establishing a PPR virus eradication program using regular monitoring and vaccination program to control and mitigate the risk of re-emergence of PPR virus infection in domestic and captive wild goats in Iraq.