Equine arteritis virus (EAV)

The Disease

Equine arteritis virus (EAV) is the cause of equine viral arteritis. The virus can be spread via two distinct routes, namely via aerosol as a respiratory infection or via sexual contact, in the semen of persistently infected stallions. The consequences of infection vary from mild or inapparent respiratory infection to more severe disease, including the induction of abortion.

The Virus

EAV is an RNA virus, with a single RNA molecule encoding the virus genome encapsidated by an icosahedral nucleocapsid and surrounded by an outer membrane, also known as the virion envelope. A schematic representation of a virus particle is shown.

A number of virus proteins present in the virion envelope have been identified, which may be important for the virus to attach to and enter into cells. Such envelope proteins are also likely to be principal targets for antibodies able to neutralise the virus and hence protect against virus infection. One of these proteins, the 'large glycoprotein' (GL) has been shown to be the major target for virus neutralising antibodies.


Studies have predominantly focussed upon the development of improved diagnostic tests for EAV infection and the identification of targets for improved vaccination strategies. For the latter area, there is considerable interaction with the Immunology group. In addition, we have recently initiated studies directed at understanding the process whereby the virus attaches to and enters into cells. These studies will focus upon characterising the interaction between the envelope proteins GL and M, which form a GL/M complex believed to be critical for virus binding and entry. For further information click here.


EAV research has been supported by a number of external bodies, including the European Breeders Fund, MAFF, the EU, the HBLB and the BBSRC.

To find out more about the AHT why not visit their website www.aht.org.uk


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