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Med Vet Entomol. 1997 Apr;11(2):172-6.

Transmission of louping ill virus between infected and uninfected ticks co-feeding on mountain hares.

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NERC, Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology, Oxford, England.


Most of the data on oral infection of ticks by louping ill virus have been obtained from experiments in which animals were infected by syringe inoculation with infectious material. Using infected ticks to mimic the natural situation, we have demonstrated that louping ill (LI) virus transmission can occur from infected to uninfected Ixodes ricinus feeding in close proximity on mountain hares (Lepus timidus). Under these conditions the hares developed either low or undetectable viraemias. Highest prevalence of LI virus infection was observed in recipient nymphs which had fed to repletion between days 3 and 7 post-attachment of virus-infected adults; following engorgement, 56% of nymphs acquired virus. These results demonstrate the efficient transmission of LI virus between co-feeding ticks on naive mountain hares. However, when ticks were allowed to co-feed on virus-immune hares a significant reduction in the frequency of infection was observed. Neither red deer (Cervus elaphus) nor New Zealand White rabbits supported transmission of LI virus. The significance of virus transmission between cofeeding ticks on LI virus epidemiology is discussed.

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