Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) caused by the PRRS virus (PRRSV) is considered one of the most devastating swine diseases worldwide. PRRS viruses are divided into two major genotypes, Type 1 and Type 2, with pronounced diversity between and within the genotypes. In Denmark more than 50% of the herds are infected with Type 1 and/or Type 2 PRRSV. The main objective of this study was to examine the genetic diversity and drift of Type 1 viruses in a population with limited introduction of new animals and semen. A total of 43 ORF5 and 42 ORF7 nucleotide sequences were obtained from viruses collected from 2003 to February 2013. Phylogenetic analysis of ORF5 nucleotide sequences showed that the Danish isolates formed two major clusters within the subtype 1. The nucleotide identity to the subtype 1 protogenotype Lelystad virus (LV) spanned 84.9–98.8% for ORF5 and 90.7–100% for ORF7. Among the Danish viruses the pairwise nucleotide identities in ORF5 and ORF7 were 81.2–100% and 88.9–100%, respectively. Sequencing of the complete genomes, including the 5′- and 3′-end nucleotides, of 8 Danish PRRSV Type 1 showed that the genome lengths differed from 14,876 to 15,098 nucleotides and the pairwise nucleotide identity among the Danish viruses was 86.5–97.3% and the identity to LV was 88.7–97.9%. The study strongly indicated that there have been at least two independent introductions of Type 1 PRRSV in Denmark and analysis of the full genomes revealed a significant drift in several regions of the virus.
Virus Research, 2013, Vol 178, Issue 2, p. 197-205