Sheeps and the bluetongue disease

High School ・Agriculture ・MLA

Some of the symptoms associated with the blue tongue viral disease are listed below: the sheep below exhibit the major signs and symptoms related to this disease. The sheep is a distinct domesticated animals and their life is affected by such as altitude. For instance, the sheep copes very well on high lands, mountains and hilltops. And they are susceptible to blue tongue disease which does not only infect the sheep, but the cattle, goats and other ruminants.
The infection causes an inflammation and hemorrhage of the mucus membrane in the mouth, nose and the tongue. These are preceded by early symptoms that include excessive salivation, progressive darkening of the vascular areas of the mouth and reddening of the lips and tongue.
Inflammation and soreness of the feet are also attributed to the bluetongue infection. In sheep, the tongue and mucous membrane of the mouth swells, the animal is hemorrhaged and the general appearance changes to dirty blue. This gives the disease its name. Notably, the disease does not spread through animal contact but via the bites from gnats. Gnats carry the bluetongue virus from sheep to sheep.
The incubation period of the bluetongue virus ranges from five to twenty days. Within a month all the notable signs develop in the sheep these signs are easy to notice since the sheep becomes vulnerable. The moment a single sheep is infected in a flock, the whole flock becomes susceptible. This calls for an early isolation of the infected sheep before others are infected. African sheep are hardy and slightly resistant to this disease. This means that the mortality rate is relatively low as compared to exotic breeds of sheep. The exotic breeds are highly susceptible to the infection giving them a higher mortality rate.
Epidemiological studies reveal the spread of the disease across the Middle East, USA, parts of Australia, Asia and Europe. These fore mentioned areas are tropical and subtropical areas with favorable climate that enables thriving of the midges. Viral survival and vector longevity is more significant during the mild winters. The vector Culicoides obsoletus are killed by cold winter temperatures. The virus can also be transmitted from the mother to fetus. In such cases the outcome is a stillbirth in occasions where the infection occurred during the early gestation period. The lamb may survive if the infection occurred in the late gestation period.
Bluetongue infection has major impact on sheep production. Losses result primarily from mortality. In other instances reduced wool production and reduced reproductive performances associated with infertility. These occurrences in livestock management project a huge drawback in the economic goals of the farmers. Moreover, more resources are channeled to the control of the disease. The purchasing of pesticides and acquisition of relevant vaccines derails the financial well-being of the farmer. Also, farmers that keep wool producing sheep are prone to losses since the quality of the wool goes down. The meat of infected sheep on the other hand is unhealthy to human consumption.
The disease can be controlled through vaccination of the flock. World Health Organization suggests that the vaccine used in sheep is of serotype 2 with a code of QI04AA02. The serotype however differ from country to country. Control can also be done by trapping the vector. Culicoides midges that carry the virus breed on the animal dung and moist soils. If their habitats are identified, the life cycle of the vector can be broken. Insecticides can also be used to kill the vector. Occasionally, the animal habitats should be sprayed with insecticides. More activities such as turning off taps and draining dumps reduces the population of the vector. Also, the midges can be trapped and removed from the breeding grounds and killed. In other words, the animals should be kept away from possible encounters by the vectors.
Vaccination using the modified-live-virus prevents infection. However point must be taken on the pregnant ewes. In other words in during the first fifty days of pregnancy, the pregnant ewes should not be vaccinated. Otherwise, infected sheep recover with time when proper care is taken. In most cases the infected sheep recover naturally within a time span of fourteen days. Animals recovering from the viral infection of a particular serotype develops immunity against reinfection.
The Gantt chart below is a projection of all the activities involved in the management of the bluetongue viral infection. Adoption of this approach can greatly minimize the spread of the virus and thus enhance maximum livestock production. This activities work within the time frame of infection to recovery.


The Gantt chart above assumes the highlighted activities are done within four weeks which generally is a month. Apart from the normal vaccination that farmers may do annually the procedures above are appropriate when the bluetongue infection is noticed in the sheep. This will ensure no spread of the disease and to properly manage the infected for possibilities of recovery. Livestock health is important while managing livestock production maximum economic benefit.

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