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- Author or Editor: James O. Mecham x
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Objective—To characterize a 2007 bluetongue disease (BT) epizootic caused by bluetongue virus (BTV) serotype 17 in sheep in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming.
Animals—1,359 sheep from ranches in Wyoming and Montana.
Procedures—Information on clinical signs and history of BT in sheep was obtained from ranchers and attending veterinarians. At 3 to 6 months after the 2007 BT epizootic, blood samples were collected from rams, ewes, and lambs within and outside the Big Horn Basin; blood samples were also collected from lambs born in the spring of 2008. Sera were tested for anti-BTV antibodies by use of a competitive ELISA to determine the seroprevalence of BTV in sheep and to measure antibody titers. Virus isolation and reverse transcriptase PCR assays were used to determine long-term presence of the infectious virus or viral genetic material in RBCs of sheep.
Results—The percentage of sheep seropositive for BTV closely matched morbidity of sheep within flocks, indicating few subclinical infections. Flocks separated by as little as 1 mile had substantial variation in infection rate. Rams were infected at a higher rate than ewes. There was no evidence of BTV successfully overwintering in the area.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—This epizootic appears to be a new intrusion of BTV into a naïve population of sheep previously protected geographically by the mountains surrounding the Big Horn Basin. Rams may have a higher infection rate as a result of increased vector biting opportunity because of the large surface area of the scrotum.