With lambing not long over for some sheep farmers, it’s scary to think that it’s already time to start preparing for tupping time – especially in terms of protecting your ewes against infectious causes of abortion.
Enzootic Abortion of Ewes (EAE)
Enzootic Abortion of Ewes (EAE), caused by Chlamydophila abortus and Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii) account for around 70% of all diagnosed cases of abortion in ewes.
EAE causes late-term abortions (2-3 weeks pre-lambing), with placentas and discharges from aborting ewes being the main source of infection for other ewes. Abortions usually occur in the pregnancy after the initial infection, and so disease can be brought in by apparently healthy ewes.
Vaccination (between 4 months and 4 weeks pre-tupping) of uninfected animals protects against abortion, and in animals already latently infected both abortion rates and shedding are reduced.
Reducing The Risk of Infections
Toxoplasma infections occurring in the first 60 days of pregnancy result in foetal death. Infections between 60 and 120 days of pregnancy result in abortions, mummifications, stillbirths and the birth of weak lambs, whilst infections after 120 days result in normal healthy lambs.
Infection is via the ingestion of oocysts which have been passed in cat faeces, and minimising contact of ewes with cats plays a role in the control of the disease. Aborting ewes are not a source of infection to other animals, and vaccination at least 3 weeks prior to tupping will stimulate immunity in ewes.
If you would like any more information regarding these vaccines, please give us a ring at the practice.
Please do remember that both of these diseases are zoonotic and pregnant women should avoid contact with pregnant ewes.