OPPCONCERNED SHEEP BREEDERS SOCIETY
Recent USDA research regarding transmission of the OPP virus
has been a game changer. For more information, see our ‘Library’ page.
— DR RANDALL C CUTLIP —
Noted USDA pathologist, Randall C. Cutlip, longtime head of the Respiratory and Neurologic Disease Research Unit at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, passed away on February 20, 2020 at the age of 85. Widely known among sheep producers for his pioneering work with OPP, Dr. Cutlip was also renowned for his research of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, including scrapie and BSE.
Though the respiratory form of OPP was first reported in Montana nearly 100 years ago, it was not until Cutlip’s research in the mid ‘70s that producers
finally had an option beyond just “culling the lungers.” Dr. Cutlip and his team standardized the agar gel immunodiffusion test (AGID), developed earlier in Holland, making it possible to detect infected animals before symptoms appeared.
After further research with the new test, Cutlip began an experimental program in which sheep producers interested in eradicating OPP from their flocks—and willing to follow his protocol—submitted blood serum for AGID testing. That program continued through the ‘80s, ending when the test was licensed by USDA in 1990. This important diagnostic tool then became widely available through state laboratories and schools of veterinary medicine. Unfortunately, the AGID is no longer available today, having been taken off the market less than a year prior to Dr. Cutlip’s passing.
The OPP Society was privileged to have counted Dr. Cutlip as a longtime active member, always willing to share his insight and answer our questions. He will be greatly missed. Our condolences to his wife, Peggy, and their family.
— ERADICATION SUCCESS IN ONLY 22 MONTHS —
While our reporting over the past few years has featured Minnesota flocks, others throughout the country have also been following the MN Board of Animal Health’s eradication protocol. Wisconsin Ile de France breeder, Tom Vaassen, stands out among that group, having built an Elitest-negative flock of nearly 200 young ewes from heavily infected (88%) parent stock in record time. All positives are now gone, and Tom will continue to grow the flock to the original 300 ewes.
Tom Vaassen’s Ile de France flock at ‘Second Wind Farm’ near Lancaster, Wisconsin
— DR KELLY FROEHLICH —
How time flies! It seems like yesterday that Kelly was mentoring youth while also serving as ‘Lambassador’ for the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Ass’n. Today Dr. Froehlich is the newly installed Extension Sheep Specialist at South Dakota State University, having joined the faculty in early August 2020.
It’s been an interesting journey. While growing up on a hydroponic lettuce and tomato farm, Kelly corrupted her parents into letting her have a few sheep when she was 13. That small flock of registered Lincoln Longwools has grown into a family operation now 90 ewes strong, with ‘Snake River’ Lincolns widely known
for quality breeding stock and fleeces prized by customers worldwide. Kelly also guided the flock through Minnesota’s OPP Eradication Trial, earning full test-negative status with the state’s Board of Animal Health in 2018.
Kelly’s farming background was an asset in her academic ventures. She holds B.S. degrees in Animal Science as well as Agricultural Education from UMN, and a M.S. in Dairy Science from SDSU. The last few years found her living in New Zealand while pursuing her doctorate in Animal Science at Lincoln University. Her PhD was focused on loline, a secondary metabolic found in fescue grasses, and its potential effects on microflora and internal parasites in sheep.
Dr. Froehlich looks forward to meeting South Dakota sheep producers and working alongside them to address current challenges facing the industry. We suspect that she’ll also be returning to Minnesota from time to time to check on the new wool processing operation that her family plans to have up and running this fall.
— MINNESOTA PROGRAM ACHIEVES FULL STATUS —
Piloted since 2006 by OPP Society volunteers under the auspices of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, with full support of the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and USDA-Veterinary Services, this project has recently graduated to full program status. With the groundwork now laid, the hope is that other states will follow.
Any Minnesota sheep or goat producer is eligible to apply. Details of the program can be found on our ‘Library’ page.
— OUR NEWEST MEMBERS —
We welcome the following. See more information in our 2020 Member Directory.
Cynthia Arnold, A1 Farms
Shirley Rensink, Riverside Mustangs
— ‘ELITEST’ ELISA NOW AVAILABLE IN THE U.S. —
Of more than 30 ELISAs noted for detection of OPP/CAE, ‘Elitest’ is the only one validated to standards of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). This test was developed through a collaborative effort by laboratories in the UK, Spain, Italy and Belgium, and is used in control and eradication programs worldwide, including Ontario and Minnesota.
‘Elitest’ is now offered by the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory with a fee of $6.25 per sample plus a $10 accession fee for each lot submitted. Out-of-state submissions add 10%. Submit 1 ml of serum for this test.
— GENETIC TEST FOR OPPV SUSCEPTIBILITY —
This test, TMEM154, was introduced in 2013 by GeneSeek, a Neogen Corporation division in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was developed by USDA scientists at the Meat Animal Research center (USMARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska, working with GeneSeek, and is based on results validated in collaboration with USDA colleagues in Idaho and Washington state.
The test reports risk level for OPPv infection. It does NOT tell you whether or not an animal is infected!
Animals at lowest risk can still become infected, and at least one strain of the OPP virus has adapted to infect all sheep regardless of their TMEM154 genotype. But removing the most susceptible animals may, over time, be beneficial in efforts to reduce a flock’s overall infection level.
TMEM154 can be run on a sample of whole blood (1-2 cc in a lavender-topped EDTA tube) or on a blood-spot card (cards available from GeneSeek for $1 each). Cost is $12. See our ‘Library’ page for related info and submission form.
Important Note: While some may opt to employ this new DNA test in their OPP control efforts, at this time the OPP Society does not advocate genetic selection as a route to eradication. In summary, ALL breeds are susceptible to infection with the virus, so ALL shepherds need to be aware of this risk and the related need for biosecurity.
— PHOTO CREDITS —
We’re always looking for great photos. Members please send your best shots to any director. Currently posted:
SHOWING & OPP:
GOSSNER (New York)