OBJECTIVE: To compare methods of detecting equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV1)- and EHV4-specific antibodies in horse sera. SAMPLE POPULATION: 33 acute and convalescent serum samples from experimentally or naturally infected horses after confirmed EHV1 or EHV4 infection. PROCEDURE: For each sample, serum antibody titers against EHV1 and EHV4 were determined by use of virus neutralization (VN) and complement fixation (CF) assays. The ELISA absorbance values for each serum sample were determined against the EHV1 and EHV4 recombinant ELISA antigens. Values obtained for acute and convalescent sera in each assay were compared. RESULTS: Following experimental infection of foals, EHV1 or EHV4 antibodies that were specific for the inoculating virus were detected only by use of the ELISA. Results of VN and CF assays indicated that the foals seroconverted to EHV1 and EHV4 following infection with EHV4 only. After EHV1-induced abortion, myeloencephalitis, or respiratory tract disease, the VN and CF assay results revealed seroconversion to EHV1 and EHV4, whereas results of the ELISA revealed seroconversion to EHV1 only. Similarly, after confirmed EHV4-induced respiratory tract disease, increases in EHV4-specific antibodies were detected only by use of the ELISA with no indication of an increase in EHV1 antibodies. The CF and, to a lesser degree, VN assays revealed that seroconversion to EHV1 and EHV4 occurred between the time of obtaining acute and convalescent serum samples. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The EHV1/EHV4 type-specific antibody ELISA clearly identifies horses that have been infected with EHV1 or EHV4 by use of acute and convalescent sera. Results of VN and CF assays indicate that cross-reactive antibodies greatly limit their use.
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