Research Communication

A serosurvey of bluetongue and epizootic haemorrhagic disease in a convenience sample of sheep and cattle herds in Zimbabwe

Stuart J.G. Gordon, Charlotte Bolwell, Chris W. Rogers, Godfrey Musuka, Patrick Kelly, Alan Guthrie, Philip S. Mellor, Chris Hamblin
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 84, No 1 | a1505 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v84i1.1505 | © 2017 Stuart J.G. Gordon, Charlotte Bolwell, Chris W. Rogers, Godfrey Musuka, Patrick Kelly, Alan Guthrie, Philip S. Mellor, Chris Hamblin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0
Submitted: 07 July 2017 | Published: 14 November 2017

About the author(s)

Stuart J.G. Gordon, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand
Charlotte Bolwell, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand
Chris W. Rogers, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand
Godfrey Musuka, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, Zimbabwe
Patrick Kelly, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, St. Kitts, West Indies
Alan Guthrie, Equine Research Centre, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Philip S. Mellor, The Pirbright Institute, Pirbright, United Kingdom
Chris Hamblin, The Pirbright Institute, Pirbright, United Kingdom


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Abstract

A convenience sample of sheep and cattle herds around the cities of Harare, Kwekwe and Bulawayo, located in the Highveld region of Zimbabwe, was used to estimate the seroprevalence and sero-incidence of bluetongue virus (BTV) and epizootic haemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) antibodies. A competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to identify serum antibodies against BTV and EHDV across three rainy seasons. The median sero-prevalence of BTV and EHDV antibodies in cattle was 62% (interquartile range [IQR]: 30–89) and 56% (IQR: 5–77), respectively. In sheep, the median sero-prevalence of BTV and EHDV was 41% (IQR: 19–63) and 0% (IQR: 0–21), respectively. Median sero-incidences of BTV and EHDV antibodies in cattle of 43% (IQR: 22–67) and 27% (IQR: 9–57) respectively were recorded. The median sero-incidence of BTV in sheep was 14% (IQR: 6–23). Based on these preliminary findings, animal health workers in Zimbabwe should continue to monitor the exposure rates of cattle and sheep to BTV and consider the possibility of strains emerging with increased pathogenicity. There are no previous published reports of antibodies against EHDV in Zimbabwe so the possibility of epizootic haemorrhagic disease existing in domestic livestock should now be considered by Zimbabwean animal health officials. Seroconversions to BTV and EHDV occurred predominantly at the end of each rainy season (March and April), which generally corresponds to high numbers of the Culicoides vectors. BTV isolations were made from three individual cows in two of the sentinel herds and all three were identified as serotype 3. This is the first time BTV serotype 3 has been recorded in Zimbabwe, although its presence in neighbouring South Africa is well documented.

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