True Prevalence and Spatial Distribution of Equine Infectious Anemia Virus (EIAV) in Horses from Northeast Region of Brazil

Camila de Souza Bezerra, Denize Monteiro dos Anjos, Brunna Muniz Rodrigues Falcão, Cícero Wanderlô Casimiro Bezerra, Davidianne de Andrade Moraes, Denise Batista Nogueira, Maria Luana Cristiny Rodrigues Silva, Clebert José Alves, Carolina de Sousa Américo Batista Santos, Sérgio Santos de Azevedo


Background: Equine infectious anemia (EIA) is a viral infection, caused by a lentivirus of the Retroviridae family, Orthoretrovirinael subfamily and its occurrence generates significant economic losses due to culling of positive animals as a measure of infection control. The objective of this work was to determine the prevalence of horses positive for equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) and to identify the occurrence of areas with higher densities of cases in the states of Paraíba (PB), Pernambuco (PE), Rio Grande do Norte (RN) and Ceará (CE), Northeast region of Brazil, during the rainy (May and June) and dry (October and November) periods of 2017 and 2018.

Materials, Methods & Results: Serum samples from 6,566 horses from the states of PB, PE, RN and CE, Brazil, provided by the Laboratório Veterinária Diagnóstico - Ltda., were used. Serological diagnosis of EIA was performed using indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) as a screening test and agar gel immunodiffusion test (AGID) as a confirmatory test. The apparent prevalence was obtained by dividing the number of seroreactive animals by the total number of animals, while the true prevalence was estimated by adjusting the apparent prevalence, considering the sensitivity (100%) and specificity (98.6%) of the diagnostic protocol used. For the construction of Kernel estimates, the Quartic function was used. In the dry season, of the 1,564 animals sampled, 28 were serologically positive, of which 19 belonged to the state of Ceará, 7 to Paraíba and 2 to Rio Grande do Norte. In 2018, it was observed that, during the rainy season, 26 of the 1,635 horses were seroreactive, with 19 cases resulting from Ceará, 4 from Paraíba and 3 from Pernambuco. In the dry season, 32 of the 1,526 animals were seroreactive to EIAV, of which 26 were from Ceará, 3 from Paraíba, 1 from Rio Grande do Norte and 2 from Pernambuco. In the dry period of 2017, the CE had a real prevalence of 1.22% (95% CI = 0.05 - 2.99%). In 2018, during the rainy season, prevalences of 0.03% (95% CI = 0 - 1.18%) were identified in CE and 1.69% (95% CI = 0 - 8.38%) in PE. Regarding the 2018 dry period, a prevalence of 1.32% (95% CI = 0.26 - 2.84%) was found in the state of CE. In both dry and rainy periods of 2017, the presence of spatial clusters of animals positive for EIA was observed, mainly in the border areas among the states of CE, PE, PB and RN. In 2018, there was a variation in the distribution of areas with higher densities of cases between the rainy and dry periods.

Discussion: The state of CE had the highest prevalence of positive animals and the presence of areas with higher densities of EIA cases in both climatic periods, in the years 2017 and 2018. In some municipalities of the CE, important sporting events of agglomeration of animals take place, which can favor the transmission of EIAV by facilitating the contact of infected and susceptible animals. Population density may be a factor associated with the higher prevalence observed in this region, as it has the second largest herd among the states studied. Higher densities indirectly contribute to the occurrence of infectious diseases, as they favor the contact of infected and susceptible animals. The occurrence of higher densities of cases in the border areas of the states of PE, RN, CE, and PB may be related to the greater movement of animals in these regions, favoring the indirect contact of infected horses with susceptible ones. The observed results demonstrate the circulation of the EIAV in four states in the Northeast region of Brazil.

Keywords: Equine infectious anemia virus, prevalence, spatial clusters, epidemiology.

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