Bluetongue Mystery Solved

September 12, 2014 10:56 AM
 

 
Source: University of California-Davis


The bluetongue virus, which causes a serious disease that costs the cattle and sheep industries in the United States an estimated $125 million annually, manages to survive the winter by reproducing in the insect that transmits it, report veterinary scientists at the University of California, Davis.

The findings solve a century-old mystery and are particularly significant as global climate change brings more moderate winter temperatures around the world. The new study appears Sept. 12 in the journal PLOS ONE.

"By conducting this epidemiological study on a commercial dairy farm in Northern California, we were able to demonstrate that the virus overwinters in female midges that had fed on an infected animal during the previous season," said lead author Christie Mayo, a veterinarian and postdoctoral researcher in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.


"This discovery has important ramifications for predicting the occurrence of bluetongue in livestock and, we hope, for eventually developing controls for the disease," said co-author James MacLachlan, a UC Davis veterinary professor and viral disease expert.
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