Serum and skin surface antibodies and their associations with sheep biting lice, Bovicola ovis, on experimentally infested sheep

P. J. James, Roger D Moon, D. W. Ragsdale

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9 Scopus citations

Abstract

The sheep biting louse (Bovicola ovis) feeds superficially on the skin of sheep but appears to stimulate an immune response. In this study we examined the association between louse infestation and serum and skin surface antibodies. Louse numbers were monitored on experimentally infested Polypay and Columbia ewes for two years and on their lambs in the second year. Serum and skin wash samples were tested for antibodies to soluble extracts of B. ovis, Stomoxys calcitrans and Musca autumnalis by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). In addition, the effects of skin wash extracts on B. ovis were examined in vitro. The titre of anti-B. ovis antibodies in the serum did not differ significantly between infested and naive ewes. However, there was an increase in serum antibody titre which coincided with periods of high louse density in ewes with high louse counts. Infested lambs had higher serum antibody levels than naive lambs. Substantial cross reactivity was evident among extracts of the different insects. Densities of lice on the ewes during population decline were negatively related to the titre of skin surface antibodies. Skin washings collected from sheep during B. ovis population decline reduced the number of louse progeny when incorporated into louse diet. These results indicate that B. ovis stimulates an immune response in sheep and suggest that compounds on the skin surface may play a role in the regulation of louse populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-283
Number of pages8
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 1998

Keywords

  • Antibody
  • Immune response
  • Mallophaga
  • Ovicola ovis
  • Parasite
  • Sheep skin

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