Within-farm transmission characteristics of bluetongue virus serotype 8 in cattle and sheep in the Netherlands, 2007-2008

Hagenaars, Thomas J.; Backx, Anoek; Rooij, Eugene M.A. Van; Vrouenraets, Roger M.M.I.; Bontje, Daniel M.; Bouma, Annemarie; Elbers, Armin R.W.


In 2006 and 2007, sheep and cattle farms in the Netherlands were affected by an epidemic of bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8). In order to obtain insight into the within-farm spread of the virus, five affected cattle and five affected sheep farms were longitudinally monitored between early 2007 and mid or late 2008. The farms were visited between four and seven times to collect blood samples. During each visit, all animals present in the flock or herd were sampled. The samples were analysed for the presence of BTV-8 antibodies (ELISA) and BTV-8 antigen (rRT-PCR). The observed patterns of RT-PCR positives indicate a rapid within-farm virus spread during the vector season. During vector-free periods we observed a complete rRT-PCR positivity decline within a few months. During the vector season a lower bound estimate of the basic reproduction number (R0) ranges from 2.9-6.9 in the cattle herds (one herd not analysed), and from 1.3-3.2 in the sheep flocks in this study.