Lambs are susceptible to experimental challenge with Spanish goat encephalitis virus.
Spanish goat encephalitis virus (SGEV) is a member of the genus Flavivirus, family Flaviviridae, and causes encephalomyelitis in goats. The aim of this study was to determine whether sheep are susceptible to experimental challenge with SGEV by two different routes. The results show that SGEV can infect sheep by both the subcutaneous and intravenous routes, resulting in neurological clinical disease with extensive and severe histological lesions in the central nervous system. Lambs challenged subcutaneously developed more severe lesions on the ipsilateral side of the brain, but the lesion morphology was similar irrespective of the route of challenge. The clinical presentation, pathogenesis, lesion morphology and distribution shows that SGEV is very similar to louping ill virus (LIV) and therefore any disease control plan must take into account any host species and SGEV vectors as potential reservoirs. Furthermore, discriminatory diagnostics need to be applied to any sheep or goat suspected of disease due to any flavivirus in areas where SGEV and LIV co-exist.