Bluetongue is an economically important arboviral disease of ruminants that is transmitted by hematophagous Culicoides midges. In light of dramatic recent changes in the global distribution of bluetongue virus (BTV), the goals of this study were to re-evaluate the prevalence of BTV infection of cattle and abundance of Culicoides midges on individual dairy farms in California. A serosurvey of adult dairy cattle confirmed that BTV infection is prevalent throughout much of the state, although the coastal northwestern region remains free of infection and prevalence varies markedly among farms in the remainder of the state. Intensive sampling for one year of 4 farms in the northern Central Valley of California showed that the abundance of Culicoides midges was markedly different and coincided with the prevalence of BTV infection of sentinel cattle on each farm. Mean maximum and minimum temperatures and other meteorological parameters were similar on all 4 farms, thus we speculate that particular management practices were responsible for both the increased midge abundance and prevalence of BTV infection of cattle at individual farms. Specifically, it is concluded that variation in vector abundance at individual farms most likely is the result of waste-water lagoon and irrigation management practices, leading to higher BTV infection rates among livestock held on farms with more waste-water lagoons and greater acreage of land for waste-water irrigation.
- Bluetongue virus
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