Evidence of vertical transmission of lumpy skin disease virus in Rhipicephalus decoloratus ticks

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is an economically important acute or sub-acute disease of cattle that occurs across Africa and in the Middle East. The aim of this study was to assess whether Rhipicephalus decoloratus ticks were able to transmit lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) transovarially. Uninfected, laboratory-bred R. decoloratus larvae were placed to feed on experimentally infected “donor” cattle. After completion of the life cycle on donor animals, fully engorged adult female ticks were harvested and allowed to lay eggs. Larvae that hatched from these eggs were then transferred to feed on uninfected “recipient” cattle. The latter became viraemic and showed mild clinical disease with characteristic skin lesions and markedly enlarged precrural and subscapular lymph nodes. This is the first report of transovarial transmission of poxviruses by R. decoloratus ticks, and the importance of this mode of transmission in the spread of LSDV in endemic settings requires further investigation.

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