Turkish tick-borne encephalitis (TTE) virus causes an acute form of meningoencephalomyelitis in sheep in the north-western region of Turkey. The clinical syndrome resembles louping ill (LI) and the viruses responsible for both LI and TTE are members of the tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) complex of the Flaviviridae. The envelope protein gene of TTE virus was reverse-transcribed, amplified, cloned and sequenced. Alignment of the resultant sequence with those from other viruses of the TBE complex reveals that TTE virus is more closely related, at both nucleotide and amino acid levels (84.6% and 96% respectively), to the Central European (CEE) subtype of the TBE virus, usually associated with human disease. The relationship with LI virus is more distant (83 % and 93.5% respectively). These studies support the assertion that the ovine encephalomyelitis found in Turkey is caused by a virus that is genetically distinct from known strains of both LI and CEE viruses and from a number of other known viruses of the TBE complex.
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