Phylogenetic analysis of strains of Orf virus isolated from two outbreaks of the disease in sheep in Greece
Background: Although orf is endemic around the world, there are few descriptions of Orf virus strains and comparisons of these strains. We report the sequence and phylogenetic analysis of the partial B2L gene of Orf virus from two outbreaks of the disease in Greece. The first was an outbreak of genital form of the disease in a flock imported from France, whilst the second was an outbreak of the disease in the udder skin of ewes and around the mouth of lambs in an indigenous flock. Results: Phylogenetic analysis was performed on a part (498 bp) of the B2L gene of 35 Parapoxvirus isolates, including the two Orf virus isolates recovered from each of the two outbreaks in the present study. This analysis revealed that the maximum nucleotide and amino-acid variation amongst Orf virus strains worldwide (n = 33) was 8.1% and 9.6%, respectively. The homology of the nucleotide and amino-acid sequences between the two Greek isolates was 99.0% and 98.8%, respectively. The two Greek isolates clustered only with Orf virus strains. Conclusions: We suggest that there can be differences between strains based on their geographical origin. However, differences in the origin of strains or in the clinical presentation of the disease may not be associated with their pathogenicity. More work is required to determine if differing clinical presentations are linked to viral strain differences or if other factors, e. g., flock immunity, method of exposure or genetic susceptibility, are more important to determine the clinical presentation of the infection.