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Replication of bluetongue virus (btv) in leukocytes from the blood of sheep, cattle, elk, and mule deer inoculated with btv serotype 10 or 17 was assessed by immunocytochemical staining and dot blot northern hybridization to determine if differences in the prevalence of infection in this blood fraction might account for the differences in clinical disease among these species. Viremia was confirmed by virus isolation in all inoculated animals. Analysis of leukocytes with monoclonal antibodies specific for btv proteins revealed low numbers of infected leukocytes in only 2 sheep 8 days after inoculation with btv serotype 10. Most of the cells expressing btv were identified morphologically as monocytes; approximately 10% of infected cells were lymphocytes. Bluetongue virus was not detected by use of dot-blot hybridization on samples of blood. Our results suggest that differential infection of leukocytes does not account for the pronounced differences in clinical signs and pathologic changes among ruminants.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research