The biological properties of poxvirus isolates from skin lesions on dairy cows and milkers during recent exanthem episodes in Cantagalo County, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil, were more like vaccinia virus (VV) than cowpox virus. PCR amplification of the hemagglutinin (HA) gene substantiated the isolate classification as an Old World orthopoxvirus, and alignment of the HA sequences with those of other orthopoxviruses indicated that all the isolates represented a single strain of VV, which we have designated Cantagalo virus (CTGV). HA sequences of the Brazilian smallpox vaccine strain (VV-IOC), used over 20 years ago, and CTGV showed 98.2% identity; phylogeny inference of CTGV, VV-IOC, and 12 VV strains placed VV-IOC and CTGV together in a distinct clade. Viral DNA restriction patterns and protein profiles showed a few differences between VV-IOC and CTGV. Together, the data suggested that CTGV may have derived from VV-IOC by persisting in an indigenous animal(s), accumulating polymorphisms, and now emerging in cattle and milkers as CTGV. CTGV may represent the first case of long-term persistence of vaccinia in the New World.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.