Published Date: 2017-07-26 10:21:47
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Bluetongue - Israel: (JM) ovine, RFI
Archive Number: 20170726.5204248
BLUETONGUE - ISRAEL: (JERUSALEM) OVINE, REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
A ProMED-mail post http://www.promedmail.org
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases http://www.isid.org
Date: Sun 23 Jul 2017 3:27 PM IDT
Source: The Times of Israel [edited]
After a multi-year saga to bring a heritage breed of sheep mentioned in the Bible from Canada to Israel, shepherds [G and JL] lost 55 percent of their sheep to bluetongue virus, a mosquito [sic, see comment]-borne virus that affects livestock, [JL] tells The Times of Israel on [Sun 23 Jul 2017].
The total death toll is in the dozens, as the flock that made it to Israel numbered over 120.
Bringing the sheep from Canada to Israel took diplomatic negotiations between the countries as Israel generally does not allow importation of livestock due to concerns over viruses, including bluetongue virus.
All of the "Jacob's sheep" breed were given a clean bill of health before leaving Canada on an USD 80 000 airlift operation and underwent a stormy quarantine upon arriving in Israel.
[JL] says the couple is "devastated" by the deaths. "It hit every single sheep, but half of them were able to survive," she says. "It has been hard because we love every sheep."
The couple hoped to start an educational farm to celebrate the Jacob's sheep breed, whose origins can be genetically traced back to the Middle East some 5000 years ago. The sheep are characterized by "spots and speckles," the kind of sheep that Jacob took from Laban in Chapter 30 of the book of Genesis.
[Byline: Melanie Lidman]
[The Canadian Jacob's sheep consignment arrived in Israel several months ago. Their holding is located at Nes Harim, less than 10 km [6.2 mi] west of Jerusalem (see map at http://tinyurl.com/yclwpdz6).
For media coverage of said import, please refer to http://friendsofthejacobsheep.weebly.com/.
The serotype of the bluetongue virus involved is not given; serotyping results are anticipated. During 2016's disease season, bluetongue was widely spread in several parts of Israel, affecting sheep and cattle. According to Israel's official report to the OIE, a total of 29 outbreaks were recorded, most of them caused by BTV serotype 8; others were caused by serotypes 1, 2, 3, and 15. Their details were as follows:
August (6 outbreaks, all serotype 8);
September (12, of which 11 st 8, 1 st 3);
October (4, of which 3 st 8, 1 st 3);
November (7, of which 4 st 8, 1 st 15, 2 st 2).
An inactivated BTV vaccine, serotype 8, is currently available for voluntary vaccination of susceptible animals.
This sad event is reminiscent of a past major event in Israel, when European sheep of a highly susceptible breed (German mutton merino) were exposed to BTV-4, following their importation from northern Germany. The highest losses were encountered in the Taanach area (Valley of Yezreel), where -- in 7 villages with 134 small flocks of the said breed (totaling 2260 breeding ewes and 1332 lambs), a morbidity rate of 39.5 percent and case-fatality rate of 45.6 percent were recorded. Since July 1964, when the event above occurred, BT has been identified and reported in Israel each year, presenting a clear seasonal pattern, with most cases recorded between July to December, peaking October/November. Single exceptional cases have been recorded, throughout the years, in January and June. Susceptible sheep breeds were successfully protected, until recently, by annual pre-seasonal vaccinations with multivalent live-attenuated vaccines. Since 2009, BT has become a disease affecting cattle as well in Israel.
Details on the vaccination history of the imported Jacob's sheep will be helpful.
Subscribers interested in the genetic background of the Jacob's sheep breed, are referred to ref 1, from which the following excerpt is copied:
"Our study also provides genetic evidence supporting the anecdotal origin of some less common sheep breeds. For example, one of the 10 populations analysed from the British Isles, the Jacob sheep, displayed a homogenous R2 retrotype very different from the other British populations and more similar to the South-Western Asiatic and African breeds. The origins of the Jacob are unknown. This breed owes its name to the Biblical story of Jacob who took "every speckled and spotted sheep" as a wage from his father in law Laban (Genesis 30:25-43; probably the 1st recorded use of selective breeding in livestock). Our retrotype analysis supports a direct link between the Jacob sheep and breeds in South-West Asia or Africa rather than other British breeds."
Chessa B, Pereira F, Arnaud F, et al. Revealing the history of sheep domestication using retrovirus integrations Science. 2009; 324(5926): 532-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1170587; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3145132/.
A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at: http://healthmap.org/promed/p/62108.]