What is louping ill virus?
Louping ill virus (LIV) is a lesser-known flavivirus, probably because of its restricted geographical range. It’s mainly found in upland areas of the British Isles, where it’s transmitted by ticks.
The virus can infect a range of different animal species, including sheep, cattle and red grouse, and occasionally people. LIV causes fever that can progress to fatal encephalitis. An inactivated virus vaccine against LIV is used in sheep in areas where the disease is problematic.
Our research and its impact
Here in One Virology, we’ve recently initiated a research project on LIV. Conducted in collaboration with Dr Mara Rocchi of the Moredun Research Institute and a PhD student, it’s jointly funded by the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and Moredun.
Together, we’re using next-generation phage display to develop a test for antibodies that can differentiate between animals infected with LIV and animals that only have antibodies because they’ve been vaccinated with the killed virus vaccine. The assays developed will be used to conduct surveillance studies, determining the true extent of LIV infection in Scotland and other regions of the UK.