Sheep do not have a major role in bovine herpesvirus 1 transmission

J. J. Hage*, P. Vellema, Y. H. Schukken, H. W. Barkema, F. A.M. Rijsewijk, J. T. Van Oirschot, G. H. Wentink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


With regard to BHV1 eradication programs in cattle it is important to know whether sheep can he a reservoir of BHV1. We therefore performed an experiment that consisted of three phases. In phase 1, 10 sheep were inoculated with high doses of BHV1 and kept in close contact with 5 sheep and 5 calves. All inoculated sheep excreted BHV1 between 8 and 15 days post inoculation and seroconverted. Although BHV1 was isolated from the nasal mucosa of 3 out of 5 sentinel sheep, none of the sentinel sheep produced antibodies against BHV1. One sentinel calf excreted BHV1 through days 12-17; the remaining 4 calves excreted BHV1 between days 18 and 24, suggesting that the first calf was infected by sheep and the remaining 4 sentinel calves were infected by that calf and not by sheep. The bacic reproduction ratio (R0) of BHV1 between sheep and calves was estimated at 0.1, and among calves it was estimated at ≤ 9. In phase 2, all inoculated sheep were treated with dexamethasone and kept in close contact with 5 sheep and 5 calves. All dexamethasone treated sheep re-excreted BHV1 over a 6- to 9-day period. None of the sentinel animals seroconverted. In phase 3, the sentinel sheep and calves of phase 1 were kept in two groups and were treated with dexamethasone. None of the sentinel sheep re-excreted BHV1, whereas 3 out of 5 sentinel calves did. It is concluded that while BHV1 infection in sheep is possible, BHV1 does not spread from sheep easily to cattle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-54
Number of pages14
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 1997


  • Bovine herpesvirus 1
  • Cattle-viruses
  • Eradication program
  • Reproduction ratio
  • Sheep-viruses


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