Bluetongue Virus Infection of Goats: Re-Emerged European Serotype 8 vs. Two Atypical Serotypes
In recent years, numerous atypical Bluetongue virus (BTV) strains have been discovered all around the world. Atypical BTV strains are phylogenetically distinct from the classical BTV serotypes 1–24 and differ in terms of several biological features. For the first time, the atypical strains BTV-25-GER2018 and BTV-33-MNG3/2016 as well as the re-emerged classical strain BTV-8-GER2018 were evaluated comparatively in a pathogenesis study in goats—the natural host of atypical BTV. A substantial number of in-contact animals were included in this study to detect potential contact transmissions of the virus. After infection, EDTA blood, ocular, nasal and oral swab samples as well as serum were collected regularly and were used for virological and serological analyses, respectively. Our study showed differences in the immunological reaction between the two atypical BTV strains (no group-specific antibody detection) and the classical BTV strain BTV-8-GER2018 (group-specific antibody detection). Furthermore, we observed an increase in the total WBC count (neutrophils and lymphocytes) in goats infected with the atypical BTV strains. No horizontal transmission was seen for all three strains. Our study suggests that the atypical BTVs used in the trial differ from classical BTVs in their immunopathogenesis. However, no evidence of direct contact transmission was found.