Bovine gammaherpesvirus 4 (BoHV-4) is ubiquitous in cattle worldwide, and it has been detected in animals exhibiting broad clinical presentations. The virus has been detected in the United States since the 1970s; however, its clinical relevance remains unknown. Here, we determined the complete genome sequences of two contemporary BoHV-4 isolates obtained from respiratory (SD16-38) or reproductive (SD16-49) tract specimens and assessed clinical, virological, and pathological outcomes upon intranasal (IN) inoculation of calves with the respiratory BoHV-4 isolate SD16-38. A slight and transient increase in body temperature was observed in BoHV-4-inoculated calves. Additionally, transient viremia and virus shedding in nasal secretions were observed in all inoculated calves. BoHV-4 DNA was detected by nested PCR in the tonsil and regional lymph nodes (LNs) of calves euthanized on day 5 post-inoculation (pi) and in the lungs of calves euthanized on day 10 pi. Calves euthanized on day 35 pi harbored BoHV-4 DNA in the respiratory tract (turbinates, trachea, lungs), regional lymphoid tissues, and trigeminal ganglia. Interestingly, in situ hybridization revealed the presence of BoHV-4 DNA in nerve bundles surrounding the trigeminal ganglia and retropharyngeal lymph nodes (day 35 pi). No histological changes were observed in the respiratory tract (turbinate, trachea, and lung), lymphoid tissues (tonsil, LNs, thymus, and spleen), or central nervous tissues (olfactory bulb and trigeminal ganglia) sampled throughout the animal studies (days 5, 10, and 35 pi). This study contributes to the understanding of the infection dynamics and tissue distribution of BoHV-4 following IN infection in calves. These results suggest that BoHV-4 SD16-38 used in our study has low pathogenicity in calves upon intranasal inoculation.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature.