The Egyptian Arabian horse is one of the oldest and most popular horse breeds in the world. No previous efforts have been made for investigating the existence and prevalence of equine herpes viruses (EHVs) in this precious horse breed. In this report, ninety three clinical samples were collected from a cohort of Arabian horses located in Cairo, Egypt. Screening of the clinical samples for the presence of EHV antigens by cell-ELISA utilizing a polyclonal antibody pool against EHV-1, 2, and 4 identified 34 (36.56%) positive samples. Virus-specific semi-nested PCR assays were used for typing the positive samples. Three samples were found positive for EHV-1, seventeen for EHV-2, seven for EHV-4, one was a mixed infection of EHV-1 and EHV-4, and six did not produce any amplification signal with all assays. Sequence analysis of the amplified semi-nested PCR products of representative EHV strains further confirmed the virus identity. This study is the first that outlines the involvement of EHV infections in Arabian horse diseases worldwide. Besides, it presents new data about the prevalence of EHVs in the Egyptian horse population.
Key words: Arabian horses, Egypt, equine herpes viruses, prevalence.
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