This finding suggested that breed made a difference and that genetics were a major factor in the susceptibility of sheep to OPPV, Heaton says.
The researchers genotyped animals using blood samples collected over the years and discovered a gene, TMEM154, that influences OPPV infection.
Haplotypes 2 and 3 were strongly associated with OPPV infection and considered to be highly susceptible forms of TMEM154.
Although these results are promising, OPPV is highly adaptable and affects flocks differently, Heaton adds.
Diagnostic tests have been available for some time to determine whether sheep are infected with OPPV, Leymaster says.
"With one or both of these tests, we hope to provide a diagnostic method that determines or predicts whether the sheep will progress to OPPV
clinical signs," says Herrmann-Hoesing.