Background: We studied a recent epizootic of Getah virus infection among pigs in the southern part of Ibaraki Prefecture and the northern part of Chiba Prefecture, Japan, focusing on its possible association with outbreaks in racehorses in 2014 and 2015. The genomic sequence of a Getah virus strain from an infected pig was analyzed to evaluate the degree of identity with the strains from horses.
Results: Sera were collected from pigs from September to December 2012 to 2015 in south Ibaraki (380 pigs in 29 batches), and from September to December 2010 to 2015 in north Chiba (538 pigs in 104 batches). They were examined by using a virus-neutralizing test for Getah virus. Seropositivity rates in 2012-2013 in south Ibaraki and 2010-2012 in north Chiba ranged from 0% to 1.6%. In south Ibaraki, seropositivity rates in 2014 (28.8%) and 2015 (65.0%) were significantly higher than those in the previous years (P < 0.01); 4/5 batches had positive sera in 2014 and 7/7 in 2015. In north Chiba, seropositivity rates in 2013 (14.1%), 2014 (17.8%), and 2015 (48.0%) were significantly higher than those in the previous years (P < 0.01); 6/27 batches had positive sera in 2013, 3/9 in 2014, and 5/5 in 2015. Complete genome analysis revealed that the virus isolated from an infected pig had 99.89% to 99.94% nucleotide identity to the strains isolated from horses during the outbreaks in 2014 and 2015.
Conclusions: Serological surveillance of Getah virus in pigs revealed that the virus was circulating in south Ibaraki and north Chiba in 2014 and 2015; this was concomitant with the outbreaks in racehorses. The Getah virus strain isolated from a pig was closely related to the ones from horses during the 2014 and 2015 outbreaks. To our knowledge, this is the first convincing case of simultaneous circulation of Getah virus both among pigs and horses in specific areas.
Keywords: Getah virus; Horses; Japan; Pigs; Virus circulation.