BACKGROUND: Border disease virus (BDV) is a pestivirus responsible for significant economic losses in sheep industry. The present study was conducted between 2015 and 2016 to determine the flock seroprevalence of the disease in Algeria and to identify associated risk factors. 56 flocks from nine departments were visited and 689 blood samples were collected from adult sheep between 6 and 24 months of age (n = 576) and from lambs younger than 6 months (n = 113). All samples were tested by RT-PCR as well as by Ag-ELISA, to detect Persistently Infected (PI) animals. Serum samples from adults were tested by Ab-ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay), to detect specific antibodies against pestivirus and 197 of them were further characterized by VNT (virus neutralization test) for the detection of neutralizing antibodies specific for BDV and for Bovine virus diarrhea virus (BVDV-1 and BVDV-2).
RESULTS: No PI animals were found among the 689 sheep tested. 144/197 sera were positive in VNT for BDV, and 2 sera were strongly positive BVDV-2. Fifty-five flocks (98%) had at least one seropositive animal and the apparent within-flock seroprevalence was estimated to be 60.17% (95% C.I.: 52.96-66.96). The true seroprevalence based on estimated sensitivity and specificity of the Ab-ELISA was 68.20% (95% C.I.; 60.2-76.3). Several risk factors were identified as linked to BDV such as climate, landscape, flock management and presence of other ruminant species in the farm.
CONCLUSION: These high seroprevalence rates suggest that BDV is widespread and is probably endemic all over the country. Further studies are needed to detect and isolate the virus strains circulating in the country and understand the distribution and impact of pestiviruses in the Algerian livestock.