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1.  Normal variation in thermal radiated temperature in cattle: implications for foot-and-mouth disease detection 
Thermal imagers have been used in a number of disciplines to record animal surface temperatures and as a result detect temperature distributions and abnormalities requiring a particular course of action. Some work, with animals infected with foot-and-mouth disease virus, has suggested that the technique might be used to identify animals in the early stages of disease. In this study, images of 19 healthy cattle have been taken over an extended period to determine hoof and especially coronary band temperatures (a common site for the development of FMD lesions) and eye temperatures (as a surrogate for core body temperature) and to examine how these vary with time and ambient conditions.
The results showed that under UK conditions an animal's hoof temperature varied from 10°C to 36°C and was primarily influenced by the ambient temperature and the animal's activity immediately prior to measurement. Eye temperatures were not affected by ambient temperature and are a useful indicator of core body temperature.
Given the variation in temperature of the hooves of normal animals under various environmental conditions the use of a single threshold hoof temperature will be at best a modest predictive indicator of early FMD, even if ambient temperature is factored into the evaluation.
PMCID: PMC3235061  PMID: 22104039
2.  Associations between lamb survival and prion protein genotype: analysis of data for ten sheep breeds in Great Britain 
Selective breeding programmes, based on prion protein (PrP) genotype, have been introduced throughout the European Union to reduce the risk of sheep transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). These programmes could have negative consequences on other important traits, such as fitness and production traits, if the PrP gene has pleiotropic effects or is in linkage disequilibrium with genes affecting these traits. This paper presents the results of an investigation into associations between lamb survival and PrP genotype in ten mainstream sheep breeds in Great Britain (GB). In addition, the reasons for lamb deaths were examined in order to identify any associations between these and PrP genotype.
Survival times from birth to weaning were analysed for over 38000 lambs (2427 dead and 36096 live lambs) from 128 flocks using Cox proportional hazard models for each breed, including additive animal genetic effects. No significant associations between PrP genotype and lamb survival were identified, except in the Charollais breed for which there was a higher risk of mortality in lambs of the ARR/VRQ genotype compared with those of the ARR/ARR genotype. Significant effects of birth weight, litter size, sex, age of dam and year of birth on survival were also identified. For all breeds the reasons for death changed significantly with age; however, no significant associations between reason for death and PrP genotype were found for any of the breeds.
This study found no evidence to suggest that a selective breeding programme based on PrP genotype will have a detrimental effect on lamb survival. The only significant effect of PrP genotype identified was likely to be of little consequence because an increased risk of mortality was associated with a genotype that is selected against in current breeding strategies.
PMCID: PMC2637852  PMID: 19159456
3.  No temporal trends in the prevalence of atypical scrapie in British sheep, 2002–2006 
So-called atypical scrapie was first identified in Great Britain (GB) in 2002 following the introduction of wide-scale scrapie surveillance. In particular, abattoir and fallen stock surveys have been carried out in GB since 2002, with a total of 147 atypical positives identified by the end of 2006. The results of these surveys provide data with which to assess temporal trends in the prevalence of atypical scrapie in sheep in Great Britain between 2002 and 2006.
Using the results of abattoir and fallen stock surveys, the prevalence of atypical scrapie (percentage of samples positive) was estimated. The prevalence in the abattoir and fallen stock surveys, for all years combined, was 0.09% (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.08%–0.11%) and 0.07% (95% CI: 0.05%–0.11%), respectively. There were no significant temporal trends in either survey. Comparing the surveys' results, there were no significant differences in annual prevalence or the prevalence within PrP genotypes. For the abattoir survey, the PrP genotype with the highest prevalence was AHQ/AHQ, which was significantly higher than all other genotypes, except ARR/AHQ, AHQ/ARH and ARH/ARQ.
The estimated prevalence of atypical scrapie was similar in both the abattoir and fallen stock surveys. Our results indicate there was no significant temporal trend in prevalence, adding to evidence that this atypical form of scrapie may be a sporadic condition or, if it is infectious, that the force of infection is very low.
PMCID: PMC2397389  PMID: 18384678
4.  Flock-level risk factors for scrapie in Great Britain: analysis of a 2002 anonymous postal survey 
In November 2002, an anonymous postal survey of sheep farmers in Great Britain (GB) was conducted to identify factors associated with the flock-level occurrence of scrapie. This survey was undertaken to update an earlier postal survey in 1998, and was the first occasion in which a large-scale postal survey had been repeated.
The results of the 2002 survey indicated that scrapie was more likely to occur in certain geographic regions; in purebred compared to commercial flocks; in larger flocks; in flocks which lambed in group pens compared to those which lambed in individual pens; in flocks which always lambed in the same location compared to those which did not; and in farms which kept certain breeds of sheep. In addition to these factors, the likelihood of the disease occurring in homebred animals was higher in flocks which bred a greater proportion of replacement animals or which bought-in lambs. Finally, within-flock transmission following exposure was more likely to occur in hill flocks compared to other farm types; in flocks which bred a greater proportion of replacement animals; and in farms which kept a certain crossbreed of ewe.
The risk factors identified from the 1998 and 2002 anonymous postal surveys in Great Britain were similar. However, differences between the surveys were identified in the influence of region and of purchasing behaviour on the risk of scrapie. These differences are most likely a consequence of changes in farmer awareness and the impact of the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease epidemic, respectively.
PMCID: PMC1557843  PMID: 16887027
5.  The time-course of a scrapie outbreak 
Because the incubation period of scrapie has a strong host genetic component and a dose-response relationship, it is possible that changes will occur during an outbreak, especially in the genotypes of cases, age-at-onset of disease and, perhaps, the clinical signs displayed. We investigated these factors for a large outbreak of natural scrapie, which yielded sufficient data to detect temporal trends.
Cases occurred mostly in two genotypes, VRQ/VRQ and VRQ/ARQ, with those early in the outbreak more likely to be of the VRQ/VRQ genotype. As the epidemic progressed, the age-at-onset of disease increased, which reflected changes in the genotypes of cases rather than changes in the age-at-onset within genotypes. Clinical signs of cases changed over the course of the outbreak. As the epidemic progressed VRQ/VRQ and VRQ/ARQ sheep were more likely to be reported with behavioural changes, while VRQ/VRQ sheep only were less likely to be reported with loss of condition.
This study of one of the largest scrapie outbreaks in the UK allowed investigation of the effect of PrP genotype on other epidemiological parameters. Our analysis indicated that, although age-at-onset and clinical signs changed over time, the observed changes were largely, but not exclusively, driven by the time course of the PrP genotypes of cases.
PMCID: PMC1513210  PMID: 16772026

Results 1-5 (5)