Sheeppox virus (SPPV) is considered a highly contagious disease in sheep by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). It is classified with Goatpox virus (GTPV) and Lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) within the Capripoxvirus (CaPV) genus. SPPV causes significant economic losses in endemic regions like Northern and Central Africa, Asia, India and Middle East. In Morocco, little information about the molecular characterization of SPPV is available, hence the objective of the present study is to assess the genomic relationships between Moroccan viral strains isolated from different geographic regions during several outbreaks, vaccine strains and reference strains retrieved from the NCBI Genbank, by sequencing the P32 gene. All sequences were analyzed using MEGA7 software version 7. Phylogenetic tree constructions for this gene sequences were generated using the Neighbor-Joining method. It clearly appeared that SPPV strains reported in many countries, were branched and clustered with the clade of SPPV and displayed a strong genetic relationship between them with nucleotide and amino acid identities respectively of 99-100 % and 98-100 %. These results led us to conclude that P32 gene appears highly conserved among SPPV and Capripoxvirus. For that, more genetic studies are required in order to control and understand the epidemiological situation of SPPV.

Keywords: Sheeppox virus, P32 gene, Phylogenetic analysis, Capripoxvirus, Goatpox virus.