A South African isolate of ovine lentivirus was shown to cause a mild immunosuppression in sheep, reflected by a reduced delayed hypersensitivity reaction. This effect, measured in terms of skin swelling after intradermal inoculation with tuberculin, showed a positive linear relationship with the latency period before the appearance of jaagsiekte symptoms in animals co-infected with JSRV, as well as with the activity of monocytes. In a parallel study, increased susceptibility of lentivirus-infected sheep to infection with Pasteurella haemolytica was demonstrated. It is concluded that the lentivirus may play an enhancing role in both viral and bacterial infections of sheep by compromising the host's cellular immune response.
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