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ARS Home » Office of International Research Engagement and Cooperation » Unpublished Old OIRP Pages » ARS International Action - When Herpes is a Good Thing- October 2014


Team Members (L - R): front- Trichi, Susana Torioni, Ignacio Echaide, Carolina Thompson; back- Paulo, Alex Beck, Liliana Aguirre

Part of the Team at INTA-Rafaela Estacion Experimental Agropecuaria.


When Herpes is a Good Thing - International Collaboration Explores Herpes Virus for Vaccine Delivery

Bovine Herpesvirus 4 (BHV-4) is a gammaherpesvirus, and has been suggested as a cause of spontaneous abortions in cattle. BHV-4 isolates found in Argentina are being compared to similar viral biotypes elsewhere in the world, and it displays genotypic and phenotypic differences. One finding is that a BHV-4 biotype infection shows little to no virulence; in other words, it is a milder form of the virus. Researchers suggest this finding makes it useful as a vaccine delivery platform. The idea is to take advantage of the virus' natural ability to invade an animal's tissues to deliver vaccine components from other important pathogens. The BHV-4 virus would seem a good candidate for this as it may be mild enough to deliver vaccine without causing herpes virus associated disease.

To explore this possibility, a collaboration between the Animal Disease Research Unit, ARS-USDA, Washington State University and the Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia Agropecuaria was established to study BHV-4 under farm conditions. Specifically, the team wanted to understand how many different viruses the cattle were dealing with in their native environment, how ill the viruses made the cows, how contagious (transmissible) each virus type is, and what was the prevalence of each. Among 18 dairies with a history of reproductive disease, 65% of cows sampled were positive for BHV-4. Work is ongoing to further characterize viral isolates and study their association with metritis (uterine infection) and abortion.

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