|The Biology of the Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus|
|Introduction to the CAE virus|
Viruses are very small, simple organisms that have only one goal in life -- to make more of themselves. They are so small they can carry only a small number of genes plus a few important molecules all wrapped up in a protein coat. For this reason, viruses need to invade a cell and exploit the machinery of that cell to replicate. Viruses are completely dependent on the genetics and function of the cell that plays host to them.
The virus that causes inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) in young goats and degenerative arthritis and mastitis in adult goats is a member of the retrovirus family of viruses. These viruses carry their genes in the form of RNA instead of DNA. While there are other types of RNA viruses, retroviruses are unique in that the RNA is converted into double-strand DNA shortly after the virus enters the cell. This DNA is then inserted into the genome of the living cell to become a permanent gene within the chromosome of the host cell.
The CAE virus is most commonly passed through milk and especially colostrum from an infected dam to her kids. This is called vertical transmission. The virus can also be passed, but only rarely from one goat to another which is called horizontal transmission. In sheep, horizontal transmission of MVV appears to be an more important source of infection.
Next The structure of the CAE virus
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