A recent study publish in PLoS suggests blood from the hair sheep may lead a revolution in microbiology testing .
"Many pathogens either fail to grow entirely or exhibit morphologies and hemolytic patterns on human blood agar that confound colony recognition. Furthermore, human blood can be hazardous to handle due to HIV and hepatitis , . This study investigated whether blood from hair sheep, a hardy, low-maintenance variety of sheep adapted for hot climates, was suitable for routine clinical microbiology studies."
"The results of all studies showed that blood agar prepared from citrated hair sheep blood is suitable for microbiological tests used in routine identification and susceptibility profiling of human pathogens. The validation of citrated hair sheep blood eliminates the labor-intensive and equipment-requiring process of manual defibrination. Use of hair sheep blood, in lieu of human blood currently used by many developing world laboratories and as an alternative to cost-prohibitive commercial sheep blood, offers the opportunity to dramatically improve the safety and accuracy of laboratory diagnosis of pathogenic bacteria in resource-poor countries."
This is interesting because in the Meet the Scientist podcast episode 19 clinical microbiologist Ellen Jo Barren talks about using sheep blood in under-resourced labs. Click here to listen: