A prospective study of the incidence and severity of congenital deformities of calves, attributable to maternal infection by Akabane virus, was carried out on a population of 174 susceptible animals that were between one and nine months pregnant at the time of infection. The study was carried out in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales during 1983, after an epidemic of Akabane virus infection in late February to early March 1983. The incidence of virus-induced abnormalities in calves and fetuses was 17.8 per cent (31/174). The highest incidence of abnormalities occurred during the third and sixth months of gestation (27 to 29 per cent). The earliest abnormality was observed after infection at 76 days of gestation, and the last after infection at 249 days. The development of the pathological entities of hydranencephaly/porencephaly and arthrogryposis were found to be quite distinct. Cases of hydranencephaly and porencephaly developed after infection between 76 and 104 days of gestation whereas arthrogryposis developed after infection between 103 and 174 days of infection. It was concluded that the type of congenital deformity produced by maternal infection with Akabane virus was dependent on the stage of fetal development at the time of infection. The data suggest that the infection was transplacental and that fetuses of less than two months of age were protected from infection.
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