Experimental lumpy skin disease virus infection of cattle: comparison of a field strain and a vaccine strain

Lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) infections can cause massive clinical signs in cattle and have great economic impact due to severe trade restrictions. For LSDV control, only live attenuated vaccines are commercially available, but they currently are not authorized in the European Union. Moreover, these vaccine virus strains can induce substantial side effects with clinical signs similar to infections with virulent LSDV. In our study, we compared clinical symptoms, viremia, and seroconversion of cattle inoculated either with a virulent field strain from North Macedonia isolated from diseased cattle in 2016 or with the attenuated LSDV vaccine strain “Neethling”. Using specimens from the field and from experimental inoculation, different diagnostic tools, including a pan-capripox real-time qPCR, newly developed duplex real-time qPCR assays for differentiation between virulent and attenuated LSDV strains, and several serological methods (ELISA, indirect immunofluorescence test and serum neutralization test [SNT]) were evaluated. Our data show a high analytical sensitivity of both tested duplex real-time qPCR systems for the reliable distinction of LSDV field and vaccine strains. Moreover, the commercially available capripox double-antigen ELISA seems to be as specific as the SNT and therefore provides an excellent tool for rapid and simple serological examination of LSDV-vaccinated or infected cattle.

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