Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) causes significant economic losses to the swine industry worldwide. While PRRSV has been endemic in North America since 1989, it was not until 1999 that the virus was first described in South America. Notably, recently an increased number of PRRSV outbreaks have been reported in South American countries. However, epidemiological information related to these outbreaks is limited and the genetic characteristics of the PRRSV strains circulating in the region are poorly understood. In this study, we describe the genetic analyses of PRRSV strains associated with severe PRRS outbreaks in Peru. Samples originating from 14 farms located in two Departments in Peru (Lima and Arequipa), were subjected to RT-PCR amplification of the PRRSV ORF5 gene and sequencing followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. Results demonstrated the circulation of PRRSV-2 in Peru. Notably ORF5 RFLP typing revealed that 15 (75%) of the PRRSV strains detected in this study belong to the RFLP 1-7-4 type. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the Peruvian strains are closely related to the highly virulent PRRSV 1-7-4 strains that emerged in the US in 2013–2014. Results here indicate the presence of highly virulent PRRSV 1-7-4 strains in Peru and provide important information on the geographical distribution of PRRSV, confirming the recent geographical expansion of this important swine pathogen towards South America.
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