Domestic Sheep Swabbed for Movi Bacteria

October 22, 2019


Wrestling sheep on a cold morning in order to swab their noses may sound strange, but what researchers learn from these swabs could help protect the sheep in the long run.

Kim Andrews from the GRC took nasal swabs from over 75 young sheep on October 17, with the help of the University of Idaho Sheep Center team and Thibault Stalder from Eva Top's lab. These samples will soon be tested for Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (Movi). This is the beginning of a study that aims to eventually aid in the creation of a vaccine to protect sheep against the Movi bacteria.

Movi is a respiratory pathogen that affects domestic sheep and goats, as well as bighorn sheep and mountain goats. It can cause primary atypical pneumonia and make infected animals more susceptible to secondary pneumonia. Andrews is part of a study being conducted on the Movi bacteria, investigating how it affects domestic and bighorn sheep. This trip to the U of I Sheep Center was to gather some of the preliminary data for the study. Next, the collected samples will be tested for different strains of Movi.

According to Sheep Center staff, the young sheep generally have a higher infection rate than the adults, though the fully grown sheep may carry a wider variety of strains. Andrews chose to sample the younger sheep so more of the samples would contain the bacteria—in the initial stages of this study, quantity is more important than diversity.

Thanks to the help of the Sheep Center staff and some veterinary students, collecting the samples was an efficient process. It took everyone present to swab the sheep, record their tag number, and correctly label and store the swabs.

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Article by Katy Riendeau
IBEST Design & Marketing Coordinator