Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Parasit Vectors. 2012 Jan 10;5:7. doi: 10.1186/1756-3305-5-7.

The use of a Psoroptes ovis serodiagnostic test for the analysis of a natural outbreak of sheep scab.

Author information

  • 1Moredun Research Institute, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH26 0PZ, Scotland, UK.



Sheep scab is a highly contagious disease of sheep caused by the ectoparasitic mite Psoroptes ovis. The disease is endemic in the UK and has significant economic impact through its effects on performance and welfare. Diagnosis of sheep scab is achieved through observation of clinical signs e.g. itching, pruritis and wool loss and ultimately through the detection of mites in skin scrapings. Early stages of infestation are often difficult to diagnose and sub-clinical animals can be a major factor in disease spread. The development of a diagnostic assay would enable farmers and veterinarians to detect disease at an early stage, reducing the risk of developing clinical disease and limiting spread.


Serum samples were obtained from an outbreak of sheep scab within an experimental flock (n = 480 (3 samples each from 160 sheep)) allowing the assessment, by ELISA of sheep scab specific antibody prior to infestation, mid-outbreak (combined with clinical assessment) and post-treatment.


Analysis of pre-infestation samples demonstrated low levels of potential false positives (3.8%). Of the 27 animals with clinical or behavioural signs of disease 25 tested positive at the mid-outbreak sampling period, however, the remaining 2 sheep tested positive at the subsequent sampling period. Clinical assessment revealed the absence of clinical or behavioural signs of disease in 132 sheep, whilst analysis of mid-outbreak samples showed that 105 of these clinically negative animals were serologically positive, representing potential sub-clinical infestations.


This study demonstrates that this ELISA test can effectively diagnose sheep scab in a natural outbreak of disease, and more importantly, highlights its ability to detect sub-clinically infested animals. This ELISA, employing a single recombinant antigen, represents a major step forward in the diagnosis of sheep scab and may prove to be critical in any future control program.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk