Shittu I, Meseko CA, Sulaiman LP, et al. Fatal multiple outbreaks of equine influenza H3N8 in Nigeria, 2019: The first introduction of Florida clade 1 to West Africa. Vet Microbiol. 2020;248:108820
In December 2018, suspected outbreaks of equine influenza (EI) were observed in donkeys in Sokoto State, in the extreme northwest of Nigeria bordering the Republic of the Niger. Equine influenza virus (EIV) subtype H3N8 was the etiologic agent identified in the outbreaks using real-time RT-qPCR and sequencing of both the partial haemagglutinin (HA) gene and the complete genome. Since then the H3N8 virus spread to 7 of the 19 northern states of Nigeria, where it affected both donkeys and horses. Phylogenetic analysis of the partial and complete HA gene revealed the closest nucleotide similarity (99.7%) with EIVs belonging to the Florida clade 1 (Fc-1) of the American lineage isolated in 2018 from Argentina and Chile. In total, 80 amino acid substitutions were observed in the viral proteins when compared to the OIE-recommended Fc-1 vaccine strains. The HA and neuraminidase proteins respectively had 13 and 16 amino acid substitutions. This study represents the first reported outbreak of EI caused by an Fc-1 virus in Nigeria and in the West Africa sub-region. Based on this report, extensive disease surveillance in equids is required to establish the circulating lineages and design an effective control strategy to protect the considerable population of horses and donkeys in the country.
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