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Performance of the Psoroptes ovis antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in the face of low-level mite infestation

Kim Hamer, Stewart Burgess*, Valentina Busin and Neil Donald Sargison. *EPIC scientist, Stewart Burgess contributed to this work

Psoroptes ovis mites, the causative agent of sheep scab, can severely compromise sheep welfare and production. However, in subclinical infections, mite detection is difficult increasing the risk of spread. A recent serodiagnostic test, based on detecting host antibodies to the P ovis allergen, Pso o 2, has made the detection of subclinical infection possible. The use of this test was demonstrated in subclinical situations, through an opportunistic observational study on an extensive hill farm and a lowland flock with recently introduced, quarantined livestock. Twelve animals were tested from each group. Breeding ewes and lambs on the hill farm had seroprevalences of 16 per cent (12.5–17.8 per cent) and 8.3 per cent (4.8–10.1 per cent), respectively. Quarantined store lambs had a seroprevalence of 16.7 per cent (13.2–18.5 per cent); no evidence of P ovis was found in quarantined replacement ewes. By detecting subclinical infection, this serological test could be a powerful tool in sheep scab control, for quarantine procedures, accreditation programmes, and possibly regional or national eradication protocols.

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