Video 36 Orf in lambs
Orf is caused by a virus called the Parapox virus in sheep. It can be a nasty clinical disease that can spread rapidly through the flock.
The symptoms are pustular swellings, growths around the mouth and muzzle in young lambs,
It also can affect the feet of older lambs causing strawberry footrot. This disease often occurs where this sensitive tissue around the mucocutaneous junction becomes damaged. This is the coronary band where the leg hair meets the hoof.
With lambs rough grazing or older lambs out onto stubble can be factors. Any tissue damage can open the door for this virus to enter these areas where the virus is circulating in a flock.
It survives year to year in flocks with carrier sheep and also when scabs fall off they can be infective for months in the environment.
Another reason to clean out lambing pens thoroughly between seasons.
Pet lambs seem to be more prone to severe outbreaks possibly linked to poorer immunity and the sharing of teats while drinking.
It is a virus so time and covering secondary infections in the damaged skin is very important. Most lambs will respond and recover in 2-4 weeks after the initial infection. When the skin breaks and proliferates it is important these lambs receive antibiotics to prevent secondary infections making the condition worse.
Older lambs with strawberry footrot may respond poorly to treatment if caught late.
Lambs with orf suckling ewes need to be watched to prevent very bad mastitis from orf. Although this can be rare we need to be mindful of it.
With the virus surviving for a long time in the environment all lambing facilities should be thoroughly cleaned between seasons. With infected flocks, there is a live vaccine that can be used on the ewes and then the lambs to prevent infections in the next season.
Ensure lambs are not being grazed on rough pasture (like thistles) to prevent mouth damage.
Vaccination works well in flocks with Orf. Flocks without orf should not be using the vaccine.
The vaccine must be given with great care and is a live vaccine. It is given in advance of when symptoms appear. Talk to your own vet about timing and use of this vaccine.
Thought for the day
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