Isolation and Cultivation of a New Isolate of BTV-25 and Presumptive Evidence for a Potential Persistent Infection in Healthy Goats
Recently, several so-called “atypical” Bluetongue virus (BTV) serotypes were discovered, including BTV-25 (Toggenburg virus), in Switzerland. Most “atypical” BTV were identified in small ruminants without clinical signs. In 2018, two goats from a holding in Germany tested positive for BTV-25 genome by RT-qPCR prior to export. After experimental inoculation of the two goats with the BTV-25 positive field blood samples for generation of reference materials, viremia could be observed in one animal. For the first time, the BTV-25-related virus was isolated in cell culture from EDTA-blood and the full genome of isolate “BTV-25-GER2018” could be generated. BTV-25-GER2018 was only incompletely neutralized by ELISA-positive sera. We could monitor the BTV-25 occurrence in the respective affected goat flock of approximately 120 goats over several years. EDTA blood samples were screened with RT-qPCR using a newly developed BTV-25 specific assay. For serological surveillance, serum samples were screened using a commercial cELISA. BTV-25-GER2018 was detected over 4.5 years in the goat flock with intermittent PCR-positivity in some animals, and with or without concomitantly detected antibodies since 2015. We could demonstrate the viral persistence of BTV-25-GER2018 in goats for up to 4.5 years, and the first BTV-25 isolate is now available for further characterization.