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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.
OBJECTIVE To compare the humoral response between sheep vaccinated with a killed-virus (KV) vaccine and those vaccinated with a modified-live virus (MLV) vaccine against bluetongue virus (BTV) serotype 17.
DESIGN Randomized clinical trial followed by a field trial.
ANIMALS 30 yearling crossbred ewes (phase 1) and 344 sheep from 7 Wyoming farms (phase 2).
PROCEDURES In phase 1, ewes seronegative for anti-BTV antibodies received sterile diluent (control group; n = 10) or an MLV (10) or KV (10) vaccine against BTV-17 on day 0. Ewes in the KV group received a second dose of the vaccine on day 21. Ewes were bred 5 months after vaccination and allowed to lamb. Anti-BTV antibodies were measured in ewes at predetermined times after vaccination and in their lambs once at 5 to 10 days after birth. In phase 2, 248 commercial sheep were screened for anti-BTV antibodies and vaccinated with a KV vaccine against BTV-17 on day 0. Sheep seronegative for anti-BTV antibodies on day 0 (n = 90) underwent follow-up serologic testing on day 365 along with 96 unvaccinated cohorts (controls).
RESULTS In phase 1, all vaccinated ewes developed anti-BTV antibodies by 14 days after vaccination and remained seropositive for 1 year; all of their lambs were also seropositive. All control ewes and lambs were seronegative. In phase 2, the prevalence of vaccinated sheep with anti-BTV antibodies 1 year after vaccination was 93% and 76% as determined by a serum neutralization assay and competitive ELISA, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Both vaccines induced antibodies against BTV-17 that persisted for at least 1 year and provided passive immunity for lambs and may be a viable option to protect sheep against disease.