Orf is a zoonotic and epitheliotrophic contagious disease that mainly affects sheep, goats, wild ruminants, and humans with a worldwide distribution. To date, there is little information on the characterization of ORFV strains that are endemic in Mainland China. In addition, the relationship between the severity of disease and the molecular profile of ORFV strains has not been fully elucidated.
From the recent outbreak of a sheep herd in Nongan, northeast of China, the novel orf virus (ORFV) strain NA1/11 was successfully isolated. Western blot analysis indicated that the NA1/11 strain cross reacts with monoclonal antibody A3 and infected sheep ORFV antiserum. The purified virions revealed the typical ovoid shape when observed by atomic force microscopy. To determine the genetic characteristics of the NA1/11 strain, the sequences of ORFV011 (B2L), ORFV059 (F1L), ORFV109, ORFV110 and ORFv132 (VEGF) genes were amplified and compared with reference parapoxvirus strains. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (nMDS) was performed to analyze the nucleotide similarities between different ORFV strains.
Phylogenetic analysis based on ORFV 011 nucleotide sequences showed that the NA1/11strain was closely related to Xinjiang and Gansu strains. ORFV110 and ORFV132 genes are highly variable. The results revealed that precise phylogenetic analysis might provide evidence for genetic variation and movement of circulating ORFV strains in Northeast China. In addition, nMDS analysis showed that geographic isolation and animal host are likely major factors resulting in genetic differences between ORFV strains.