Tay-Sachs Disease in Jacob Sheep

Welcome to our first JSBA Science & Research Committee blog posting! Our goal is to occasionally post summaries of research projects involving Jacob sheep especially in the areas of animal health and genetics.

Our first post concerns Tay-Sachs, which is sometimes thought of as a Jacob sheep disease but it has also been found in other sheep breeds. Symptoms of this genetic disorder first appear in lambs at about 3 months.  Joints deteriorate which affects mobility, the sheep’s ability to navigate fails, and conditions worsen until death at 7-8 months.

 The Livestock Conservancy’s website has a summary of the discovery and early research findings in Fred and Joan Horak’s Texas flock  http://www.albc-usa.org/Newsletter/newsletterJanFeb2011.html

Fred Horak wrote an article in the Winter 2012 JSBA Newsletter summarizing their experience with the research and suggested  that Tay-Sachs was widespread in the Jacob breed.  Other Jacob breeders  responded in a Summer 2012 JSBA Newsletter article that it was unlikely to be an issue for most breeders because the gene was so diluted.  Both articles are reprinted here.  Winter 2012 JSBA Tay Sachs.pdfSummer 2012 JSBA Tay Sachs.pdf

Occasional diagnoses of Tay-Sachs  continue to be reported by some breeders.  Veterinary labs at the University of Pennsylvania and University of California, Davis are able to do genetic analysis to confirm the disease.

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