Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 May 2009
1. Following an epizootic of louping ill on certain farms in south-west Ayrshire in 1960, a long-term study of several farms was initiated.
2. The flocks on two hirsels of one farm were studied during spring and early summer of 1961. Although only one lamb death was confirmed as due to louping ill, the infection rates in sentinel hoggs on the two hirsels were 50–60. and 11% respectively. The difference between the hirsels is probably attributable to the difference in the amount of tick habitat on them.
3. The ewes were bled in March and June and their lambs in June. Haemagglutinin inhibition (HI) and neutralization tests revealed that the HI antibody is much shorter lasting than neutralizing antibody. Many ewes, therefore, had neutralizing but not HI antibody. Otherwise agreement between the tests was good. In March almost all the ewes aged 3 years or more had antibody. Of the gimmers (2-year-olds) about two-thirds on one hirsel and one-third on the other had antibody in March: by June almost all the former and about half of the latter had antibody.
4. About two-thirds of the lambs had the same antibody status as their mothers in June and almost all the rest had less antibody than their mothers. Serological evidence suggestive of louping ill without recognizable clinical disease was found in six lambs and a further lamb recovered from clinical disease.
5. Revaccination of two-thirds of the flock failed to cause any detectable change in antibody status.
6. The epidemiology and pathogenesis are discussed in relation to immunity and infection rates, and to the design of control measures.
We are greatly indebted to the late Mr James Murdoch at Dalmellington, Mr John Murdoch at Dalcairnie Farm, and Mr David Murdoch at Knockgray Farm for permission to work on their farms and for all the help they gave us during the study.