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. 1987 Jan;51(1):135-44.

Experimental Infection of Sheep and Goats With Transmissible Mink Encephalopathy Virus

Free PMC article

Experimental Infection of Sheep and Goats With Transmissible Mink Encephalopathy Virus

W J Hadlow et al. Can J Vet Res. .
Free PMC article


In a study to learn more about the pathogenicity of transmissible mink encephalopathy virus for the natural hosts of scrapie, 20 Cheviot sheep and 19 dairy goats were inoculated intracerebrally with the Idaho strain of the virus. Five sheep and nine goats became affected with a progressive neurological disease. The incubation period in the sheep varied from 45 to 80 months (mean, 65 months) and in the goats from 31 to 40 months (mean, 35 months). Except for degeneration of the cerebral cortex (neocortex), the disease was indistinguishable clinically and neurohistologically from scrapie. During two more passages of the virus in goats, the incubation period was shortened to 12 to 15 months, the morbidity rate rose to 100% (6/6 dairy goats and 3/3 African pygmy goats), and the cortical lesion became constant and more pronounced. By the intracerebral inoculation of pastel mink, transmissible mink encephalopathy virus was detected in the brains of several affected sheep and goats but not in extraneural sites (lymphoid tissues and intestine), except for a trace amount in the proximal colon of one goat. Even after two passages in goats, the virus remained nonpathogenic for the laboratory mouse. Despite the essential likeness of the experimental disease and scrapie, the common identity of their causal viruses remains to be determined. Even so, the results of this study are still compatible with the view that transmissible mink encephalopathy virus almost certainly is scrapie virus whose biological properties became altered by chance passage in mink, a carnivore and an aberrant host.

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