Louping Ill Virus
Louping ill is a tick borne disease of many species, most often sheep, cattle and red grouse, though many species including horses, goats, dogs and (rarely) humans can be affected. The disease was shown by Moredun scientists to be due to a virus (louping ill virus, LIV) which affects the brain and causes signs such as fever, inco-ordination and difficulty walking. In the most susceptible species (sheep and grouse), these signs frequently progress to coma and death.
Diagnosis of the disease is based on detection of antibody in affected live animals or detection of virus in tissues from animals which have died. Disease is rare in people (fewer than 100 cases are reported) and is most common in agricultural workers and others having contact with sick animals or their tissues; there are no reliable reports of transmission to people via a tick bite. There is a vaccine available for sheep and cattle, and control of ticks is important in control of the disease in livestock.
Moredun is the sole UK resource for the diagnosis of louping ill and plays a crucial role in surveillance of the virus in wildlife and the diagnosis of new manifestations of disease. In addition, it has a pivotal input into research projects on the lethal effects of LIV in red grouse and the ecology of LIV in upland areas. Each year, several thousand LIV tests are undertaken with infection being recorded in sheep, cattle, red grouse, red deer, roe deer, mountain hares, dogs and horses. Approximately 60% of all tests were done to investigate the prevalence of LIV on moorland estates through the auspices of the Game Conservancy Trust. Such testing makes a useful contribution to understanding the role of disease on biodiversity in Scotland’s upland habitat.
- Tick article.pdf (419.45 KB)
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