Identification and genetic characterization of equine infectious anemia virus in Western Balkans

BMC Vet Res. 2021 Apr 15;17(1):168. doi: 10.1186/s12917-021-02849-2.


Background: Equine infectious anemia (EIA) is a viral disease, caused by the Equine Infectious Anemia virus (EIAV) belonging to the Retroviridae family, genus Lentivirus. Horses (or equids) infected with EIAV are lifelong carriers and they remain contagious for other horses even in the absence of clinical signs. So far, EIAV infection has been reported among horses in North and South America, France, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Romania, with no publication regarding the presence of EIAV in horses in Serbia. To determine the circulation of EIAV among, approximately, the 5000 horses of the Vojvodina region, northern part of Serbia, 316 serum undergone serological testing for EIA. Then, identification and full genome sequencing using next generation sequencing was performed from one EIA positive horse.

Results: the 316 sera were tested with 3 different commercial agar gel immunodiffusion (AGID) tests and two different commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). With the three AGID kits, 311 (98.4%) among the 316 tested sera were negative and only five (1.6%) sera were positive for EIA. Some discrepancies were seen for the two ELISA kits tested since one exhibited the same results as AGID test and the second gave 295 sera with negative results, five with a positive result and 16 with doubtful outcome. Phylogenetic analysis performed using the full genome sequence showed that EIAV characterized from a horse in Serbia is different from those identify so fare around the world and form a distinct and separate group together with another EIAV strain.

Conclusions: This study demonstrate for the first time that EIAV is circulating at a low level in the horse population from the Northern part of Serbia. Interestingly, phylogenetic data indicates that this EIAV from the western Balkan region of Europe belongs to a new cluster.

Keywords: AGID test; Equine infectious anemia; Horses; NGS.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / veterinary
  • Equine Infectious Anemia / epidemiology*
  • Equine Infectious Anemia / virology
  • Genome, Viral
  • Horses
  • Infectious Anemia Virus, Equine / classification
  • Infectious Anemia Virus, Equine / genetics*
  • Infectious Anemia Virus, Equine / isolation & purification*
  • Phylogeny
  • Serbia / epidemiology
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies