The significance of tick-borne fever (TBF) and other tick-borne diseases of British sheep are reviewed. Experimental and field studies were carried out to clarify the role of TBF as a pathogen per se and as a predisposing factor in other diseases. Experimental TBF infection caused anorexia and depression in two- to three-week-old lambs, which under the stress of a hill environment could alone be a cause of mortality. Nine out of 10 lambs experimentally inoculated with Staphylococcus aureus during the febrile phase of a TBF reaction developed pyaemic lesions compared with four out of 20 lambs inoculated with S aureus alone. Specific pathogen-free lambs inoculated with an aerosol of Pasteurella haemolytica serotype A1 during a TBF reaction showed more severe clinical signs and had more extensive pathological changes at necropsy than control lambs given P haemolytica alone. Dual infection with TBF and louping-ill virus showed that not only were dually infected sheep more susceptible to louping-ill but almost all of them succumbed to a haemorrhagic syndrome involving a systemic mycotic infection with Rhizomucor pucillus. None of eight sheep given louping-ill virus alone developed this syndrome. Field studies indicated that morbidity and mortality in lambs in south-west Scotland could be markedly reduced by dipping and long acting antibiotic prophylaxis. Lamb groups in which both of these were carried out incurred losses of only 0.6 per cent compared with 10.3 per cent in control groups. In addition antibiotic-treated lamb groups demonstrated significantly better weight gains than untreated groups.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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