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Comparison of Immunosuppression in Dry and Lactating Awassi Ewes due to Water Deprivation Stress

Barbour, E., Rawda, N., Banat, G., Jaber, L., Sleiman, F.T., Hamadeh, S.
Veterinary research communications 2005 v.29 no.1 pp. 47-60
ewes, Awassi, dehydration (animal physiology), immunosuppression (physiological), lactation, Salmonella enteritidis, salmonellosis, sheep diseases, fimbriae, polypeptides, vaccines, humoral immunity, antibody formation, vaccination, water deprivation, animal welfare, animal husbandry
In seminomadic farming practice, dry and lactating ewes are exposed to different degrees of water deprivation, leading to stress followed by various disease outbreaks. This study compares quantitatively the immunosuppression to Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) fimbriae (14 and 21 kDa) and other major polypeptides (28.9, 37.7, 42.9, 68.0, 92.6 and 96.8 kDa) in water-deprived dry and lactating ewes. Sixteen dry and lactating multiparous Awassi ewes were divided into four treatment groups (A, A', B and B'). Ewes in groups A and B were lactating, whereas ewes in groups A' and B' were dry. All ewes were administered a killed SE vaccine, subcutaneously in the neck, at the initiation of the experiment. The water availability for ewes in groups B (lactating) and B' (dry) was ad libitum, while that for ewes in groups A (lactating) and A' (dry) was once every 4 days. A serum sample was collected from the jugular vein of each ewe at zero time (initiation of the experiment, when SE bacterin was delivered) and at 2, 9, 12, 15 and 18 days post SE vaccination. The percentage reduction in the level of humoral antibody response to polypeptides of greater than or equal to 21 kDa was more apparent in water-deprived lactating ewes of group A between 9 and 18 days post initiation of thirst. In this period, immunosuppression to polypeptides greater than or equal to 21 kDa was present in 14 out of 16 observations in group A (water-deprived lactating), with significant immunosuppression in 9 observations in relation to the respective control (p<0.05), while it was present in only 4 out of 16 observations in group A' (water-deprived dry), with significant immunosuppression in 2 observations (p<0.05). In conclusion, immunosuppression to polypeptides of greater than or equal to 21 kDa is more significant in lactating water-deprived ewes in the period 9-18 days post initiation of thirst, a result that will influence our future sheep welfare awareness programmes targeting an elimination of the practice of water deprivation in seminomadic sheep farming.