Scientists at Moredun have developed a novel diagnostic blood test for sheep scab infestation, which is now being carried out at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
Sheep scab, caused by the mite Psoroptes ovis, is one of the most important parasitic diseases of sheep in the UK and is a notifiable disease in Scotland. During the early stages of sheep scab, infestations are not obvious and animals often appear clinically normal. This sub-clinical stage can last for several weeks during which animals can act as a source of infection for other sheep.
For control or eradication programs to be successful, it is crucial that all infested animals are identified as quickly as possible, including sub-clinical cases and this is now possible using the new Moredun blood test.
The test detects host antibodies to a specific protein found only in the sheep scab mite, which means that the test can accurately detect that an infestation is due to the scab mite and not another ectoparasite.
The test can detect infested animals at an early stage and before the onset of clinical symptoms.