Prompt diagnosis helps reduce losses

Sheep eating turnips in the winter near St Boswells.
Sheep eating turnips in the winter near St Boswells.

EVERY flock can expect the occasional ewe to slip its lambs, but if you are seeing more than two abortions a week, you probably have an infectious cause of abortion in your flock, write SAC Consulting’s veterinary investigation officers at St Boswells.

A prompt diagnosis helps to reduce losses this year and allows you to put in control measures for next year.

Sending aborted material to your disease investigation centre – at SAC Consulting Veterinary Services, Greycrook, St Boswells – gives you the best chance of reaching a diagnosis.

Remember to send in the foetus and placenta. The placenta is particularly important for diagnosis of EAE.

The most commonly diagnosed cause of abortion at the SAC Consulting laboratory in St Boswells last year was Campylobacter.

Other common causes include enzootic abortion of ewes (EAE), Salmonella and Toxoplasmosis.

Infection can be easily spread between ewes and several of these infections can lead to disease in humans.

The most effective ways to prevent spread of infection are:

z Isolate all aborted ewes

z Remove the afterbirth, foetuses and contaminated bedding as soon as possible

z Always wash your hands after dealing with aborted ewes and material

z Wear gloves when lambing ewes and wash hands afterwards

Remember, pregnant women should avoid contact with sheep at lambing time and should not handle dirty overalls and equipment.