Population dynamics of scrapie in a sheep flock

Woolhouse, M. E. J., Matthews, L. , Coen, P., Stringer, S. M., Foster, J. D. and Hunter, N. (1999) Population dynamics of scrapie in a sheep flock. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 354(1384), pp. 751-756. (doi: 10.1098/rstb.1999.0427) (PMID:10365400) (PMCID:PMC1692552)

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A detailed analysis of an outbreak of natural scrapie in a flock of Cheviot sheep is described. A total of 137 cases was reported over 13 years among 1307 sheep born into the flock. The epidemiology of scrapie can only be understood with reference to sheep demography, the population genetics of susceptibility to scrapie, pathogenesis during a long incubation period, and the rate of transmission (by both vertical and horizontal routes), all of which interact in complex ways. A mathematical model incorporating these features is described, parameter values and model inputs are derived from available information from the flock and from independent sources, and model outputs are compared with the field data. The model is able to reproduce key features of the outbreak, including its long duration and the ages of cases. The analysis supports earlier work suggesting that many infected sheep do not survive to show clinical signs, that most cases arise through horizontal tranmission, and that there is strong selection against susceptible genotypes. However, important aspects of scrapie epidemiology remain poorly understood, including the possible role of carrier genotypes and of an environmental reservoir of infectivity, and the mechanisms maintaining alleles giving susceptibility to scrapie in the sheep population.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Matthews, Professor Louise
Authors: Woolhouse, M. E. J., Matthews, L., Coen, P., Stringer, S. M., Foster, J. D., and Hunter, N.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN (Online):1471-2954

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