An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to detect antibodies against ovine lentivirus (OLV) in serum, colostrum, and milk from naturally infected sheep. The assay used OLV recombinant transmembrane envelope protein (rTM) as a test antigen. Matched serum/colostrum and serum/milk samples were collected at 24h, 4 weeks (mid-lactation), and 8 weeks (weaning) post- lambing. Among 129 paired samples collected at 24 h post-lambing, there was overall test agreement (concordance) of 82.9% and a κ value of 0.658 between serum and colostrum rTM ELISA results. Among 130 mid-lactation samples, the milk ELISA had 100% specificity and 64.9% sensitivity relative to the serum ELISA, there was concordance of 79.2%, and a κ value of 0.602. At mid- lactation, the serum agar gel immunodiffusion test had a sensitivity of 0.390 and 0.560 relative to the serum and milk rTM ELISAs, respectively. Matched serum and milk rTM ELISA results at weaning were very similar to those at mid-lactation. Finally, increased occurrence and severity of subclinical mastitis at weaning was found in ELISA-seropositive compared with ELISA- seronegative ewes. Both subclinical mastitis and ewe OLV infection had a negative impact on lamb growth and weaning weights. Compared with blood, colostrum and milk are easier and less expensive to sample and store. These results suggest that rTM ELISA testing of colostrum and milk could be used to supplement serologic testing in OLV screening or eradication programs.
- Ovine lentivirus
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