Transplacental transmission of BTV-8 in sheep: BTV viraemia, antibody responses and vaccine efficacy in lambs infected in utero

M.T.W. van der Sluijs, D.P.H. Schroer-Joosten, A. Fid-Fourkour, M. Smit, M.P. Vrijenhoek, V. Moulin, A.J. de Smit, R.J.M. Moormann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Bluetongue virus (BTV) is an insect vector transmitted virus which causes an economically important disease in ruminants. BTV infection during pregnancy can result in infection of the foetus, which may lead to the birth of persistently infected or immunotolerant offspring. Since persistently infected animals continuously produce large amounts of virus they could be a source of infection for the insect vector. This could significantly influence the epidemiology of the virus and hence might require additional measures to control a BTV outbreak. Therefore, we investigated the potential of BTV-8 to induce persistent infection or immunotolerance in lambs in an experimental setting. Infection of eighteen 70-75 days pregnant ewes with wild type BTV-8 led to the birth of 25 out of 44 BTV RNA positive lambs (foetal infected, FI). All 23 FI lambs born alive also had anti BTV antibodies at birth; infectious virus could be recovered from 5 out of 25 FI lambs. Viral RNA loads decreased rapidly after birth; 19 out of 20 FI lambs that remained in the experiment until week 14 after birth, were RNA negative at that time. Since persistence of BTV-8 infection could not be demonstrated, we investigated whether foetal infection had an effect on protection against a field virus infection and on efficacy of vaccination. To this end, 5 FI lambs and 5 foetal non-infected (FNI) lambs were vaccinated with the inactivated Bovilis(®) BTV-8 vaccine, five months after birth. Three weeks after the vaccination, all lambs were infected with wild type BTV-8. The foetal infection did not interfere with vaccination efficacy. In contrast, foetal BTV-8 infection induced an immune response which afforded protection against BTV challenge comparable to the level of protection induced by vaccination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3726-3731
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • transmitted bluetongue virus
  • culicoides-variipennis
  • inactivated vaccine
  • pregnant ewes
  • fetal lambs
  • serotype 8
  • pcr assay
  • cattle
  • calves
  • ontogeny

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