Characterization of transboundary foot-and-mouth disease viruses in Nigeria and Cameroon during 2016
Continuous surveillance for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in endemic settings such as West Africa is imperative to support improved local and regional control plans, with the long-term goal of regional eradication. This paper describes the genetic characterization of FMD viruses (FMDV) obtained from outbreaks in Nigeria (n = 45) and Cameroon (n = 15) during 2016 and from archival samples (n = 3) retrieved from a 2014 outbreak in Nigeria. These viruses were analysed in the context of previously published FMDV sequences from the region. Four FMDV serotypes: O, A, SAT1 and SAT2, were detected. Phylogenetic analyses of the VP1 coding sequences indicate the continuity of FMDV serotype O East Africa-3 (O/EA-3), serotype A AFRICA genotype G-IV (A/AFRICA/G-IV) and serotype South African Territories (SAT) 2 lineage VII (SAT2/VII). The FMDV SAT1 topotype X (SAT1/X), which emerged in Nigeria in 2015, continued to be associated with outbreaks in the region during 2016, and SAT1 is reported for the first time from Cameroon. Additionally, a re-emergence or re-introduction of the serotype O West Africa (O/WA) topotype in Nigeria is described herein. Our findings indicate a consistent, pan-serotypic relationship between FMDV strains detected in Cameroon and Nigeria. Additionally, FMDV strains from West Africa obtained in this study were genetically related to those occurring in East and North Africa. These phylogenetic relationships suggest that animal movements (pastoralism and/or trade) are important factors for virus spread across the African continent. These data provide critical baselines which are a necessary component of Stages 0 and 1 of the Progressive Control Pathway of FMD (PCP-FMD). Specifically, characterizing the existing virus strains (risk) provides the basis for the comprehensive risk-based control plan which is the requisite criteria for Nigeria's transition to Stage 2 of PCP-FMD, and for coordinated regional control of FMD.