Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Variation in susceptibility of different breeds of sheep to Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis following experimental inoculation.

Abstract

Exposure to Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) does not always lead to Johne's disease. Understanding differences in disease susceptibility of individual animals is a key aspect to controlling mycobacterial diseases. This study was designed to examine the susceptibility or resistance of various breeds of sheep to MAP infection. Merino, Suffolk first cross Merino, Border Leicester, and Poll Dorset sheep were orally inoculated with MAP and monitored for 14 months. Clinical disease occurred more frequently in the Merino (42%) and Suffolk first cross Merino (36%) compared to the Border Leicester (12%) and Poll Dorset (11%) breeds. Infection risk, as determined by culture of gut and associated lymphoid tissues, ranged from 75% for the Suffolk first cross Merino to 47% for the Poll Dorset sheep. Significant differences were identified in the site in the intestines of the most severe histopathological lesions and the immune responses to infection between the breeds. However, there was no difference in faecal MAP shedding by clinical cases between breeds. All breeds tested were susceptible to MAP infection, as determined by infection and clinical disease development, although there were differences in the proportions of diseased animals between the breeds. Poll Dorset and Border Leicester sheep were more resilient to MAP infection but there was evidence that more animals could have developed disease if given more time. These findings provide evidence of potential differential disease susceptibility between breeds, further our understanding of disease pathogenesis and risks of disease spread, and may have an influence on control programs for paratuberculosis.