Serological survey of British sheep flocks for evidence of exposure to ovine pestiviruses

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Abstract

Ovine pestiviruses have the potential to reduce productivity in the British sheep flock. However, their prevalence and impact are currently poorly understood. This study aimed to estimate the exposure to pestiviruses in adult breeding ewe stock. Blood samples collected for metabolic profiling before lambing were tested using an ELISA that detected antibodies raised to both bovine viral diarrhoea virus and Border disease virus. A group of 15 animals were tested per flock. A total of 34 farms were tested, of which 13 had at least one seropositive animal. In those positive flocks between one and nine of the animals tested antibody-positive. Positive flocks were identified in all regions of Great Britain. This work suggests that exposure to ovine pestiviruses is widespread, and that it is timely to investigate flock-level prevalence and possible production impacts of endemic infection.

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