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Diagnosis and genetic analysis of Japanese encephalitis virus infected in horses.

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Vaccine Center, Center for Disease Control, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Nervous disorders were found in two horses and verified as aseptic encephalitis by necropsy in the summer of 2000. To investigate agents that affected the horses, diagnostic procedures involving virus isolation, neutralization test and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) were performed. We intracranially inoculated litters of suckling mice with tissues suspected of containing aseptic encephalitis, including cerebrum, cerebellum, brain stem, thalamus, and cerebrospinal fluids; the mice were then observed for 14 days. Neutralizing antibodies against Japanese encephalitis (JE) viruses were present in the cerebrospinal fluid of the horses in titers of 10. Sequences of 500 nucleotides of the premembrane gene of JE virus, synthesized by RT-PCR, from both the cerebrum and cerebellum were determined. The phylogenetic analysis based on sequences of the premembrane gene revealed a relationship with the JE virus. The divergences at the nucleotide level of 1.2-5.7% and at the amino acid level of 0-4.3% were conserved with other JE strains. The results demonstrated that the pathogens causing equine encephalitis were JE viruses. The strains were closely related to Taiwanese isolates.

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