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Exposure to viral and bacterial pathogens among Soay sheep (Ovis aries) of the St Kilda archipelago

Author(s): Graham, Andrea L.; NUSSEY, D. H.; LLOYD-SMITH, J. O.; LONGBOTTOM, D.; MALEY, M.; et al

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Abstract: We assessed evidence of exposure to viruses and bacteria in an unmanaged and long-isolated population of Soay sheep (Ovis aries) inhabiting Hirta, in the St Kilda archipelago, 65 km west of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The sheep harbour many metazoan and protozoan parasites but their exposure to viral and bacterial pathogens is unknown. We tested for herpes viral DNA in leucocytes and found that 21 of 42 tested sheep were infected with ovine herpesvirus 2 (OHV-2). We also tested 750 plasma samples collected between 1997 and 2010 for evidence of exposure to seven other viral and bacterial agents common in domestic Scottish sheep. We found evidence of exposure to Leptospira spp., with overall seroprevalence of 6·5%. However, serological evidence indicated that the population had not been exposed to border disease, parainfluenza, maedivisna, or orf viruses, nor to Chlamydia abortus. Some sheep tested positive for antibodies against Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) but, in the absence of retrospective faecal samples, the presence of this infection could not be confirmed. The roles of importation, the pathogen– host interaction, nematode co-infection and local transmission warrant future investigation, to elucidate the transmission ecology and fitness effects of the few viral and bacterial pathogens on Hirta.
Publication Date: Jul-2016
Electronic Publication Date: 1-Feb-2016
Citation: GRAHAM, AL, NUSSEY, DH, LLOYD-SMITH, JO, LONGBOTTOM, D, MALEY, M, PEMBERTON, JM, PILKINGTON, JG, PRAGER, KC, SMITH, L, WATT, KA, WILSON, K, McNEILLY, TN, BRÜLISAUER, F. (2016). Exposure to viral and bacterial pathogens among Soay sheep (Ovis aries) of the St Kilda archipelago. Epidemiology and Infection, 144 (09), 1879 - 1888. doi:10.1017/S0950268816000017
DOI: doi:10.1017/S0950268816000017
ISSN: 0950-2688
EISSN: 1469-4409
Pages: 1879 - 1888
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Epidemiology and Infection
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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