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Sheep Day -  Sheep Abortions, Jocelyn Jansen

Sheep Day - Sheep Abortions, Jocelyn Jansen



Sheep Abortions: What Causes Them & What Can We Do About It? ...

Sheep Abortions: What Causes Them & What Can We Do About It?
Dr. Jocelyn Jansen, Disease Prevention Veterinarian—Small Ruminants, OMAF

The presentation will cover the reasons for abortions in sheep but will focus on the 3 most common infectious causes in Ontario. Prevalence of disease in Ontario, diagnosis, management of the aborting flock and prevention will also be discussed.



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  • -sometimes the problems show up shortly after bringing the animals home, other times it is within the first year or in 2-3 years <br />
  • -it takes time to develop a relationship and time for the vet to get to know your flock/management style <br /> -in the past the relationship among sheep producers and veterinarians has not always been the best—wanting free advice over the phone is not the best way to engage a vet <br /> -if you put effort into the relationship so will they <br /> -a report out of the UK found that farmers lack of awareness of flock health & biosecurity definitely contributed to the spread of FMD in the 2001 outbreak <br /> -and one of the main reasons for this was because there was little veterinary involvement with sheep flocks <br /> -we have a membership of 77 veterinarians and another 25 students who have an interest in small ruminants, who eventually will go out into the work force <br /> -ask if they are a member of SRVO, if they are, they have available to them all sorts of useful information, if they aren’t maybe suggest they join <br />
  • For lamb/kid mortality the numbers are more difficult to come by and they are often characterized as the first 10 days of life. But the numbers would suggest for the non-prolific breeds the mortality rate should be &lt;10%. The key thing is to keep records to see what is normal in your flock/herd, are there changes over time, is your goal to lower the mortality rate. Can calculate rates from birth to weaning. <br />
  • Be aware, know the risks, judge for yourself, taking into account those working with you, and decide how you want to proceed <br />
  • From 2009 to 2011, sheep and goat abortions were received at the Animal Health Lab in Guelph. There was no cost for a full abortion work up as long as placenta was submitted, plus or minus fetuses. The AHL was evaluating 2 new tests, one for Chlamydia the other for Coxiella. <br /> Most common cause of abortion in sheep was Toxoplasma and in goats Chlamydia. Some abortions had more than 1 infectious agent detected (3% of sheep and 8% of goats). <br />
  • Moral of the story—these organisms are out there and are common <br />
  • Animal test is IDEXX ELISA. <br />
  • Tested with IFA test (immuno flourescent assay). If Phase II>Phase I, then considered an acute infection. <br />
  • Very common to see an injection site reaction with the vaccine (lasts for about 7 days). Vaccination may cause decrease in milk production in goats. Zero milk and meat withdrawal. <br />
  • Deccox fed at 2mg/kg daily throughout gestation. Very expensive. <br />
  • Abortions / abortion storms can significantly decrease a years lamb crop & profits <br /> losses of 15 – 70% have been reported <br /> feed for another season and/or culling of ewes <br />

Sheep Day -  Sheep Abortions, Jocelyn Jansen Sheep Day - Sheep Abortions, Jocelyn Jansen Presentation Transcript

  • Abor tions in Sheep What causes them and what can we do about it? Dr. Jocelyn Jansen Disease Prevention Veterinarian – Small Ruminants Veterinary Science & Policy, OMAF Grey Bruce Farmer’s Week – Sheep Day, January 11, 2014
  • Sheep Abortions • The Issue: – industry expansion has led to poor biosecurity implementation • buying animals from multiple sources • both new & veteran producers – increased incidence of flock abortions and/or abortion storms
  • Buyer Beware • Sources of replacement animals – salesbarn • animals mixed together from multiple farms – leads to multiple problems • good chance that animals are someone else's culls • if the price is too good to be true, don’t buy – private sales • animals from 1 source  minimizes disease risk • discuss flock history & look at management – management should be the same or better than yours – home grown replacements • maintain a closed flock
  • Working with a Veterinarian • Benefits of a vet-client-patient relationship – help you develop a flock specific health program  focus is on prevention !! • establish goals for the flock • keep good records that can be reviewed – know when to call the vet versus waiting and seeing • perform post-mortems and diagnostics • source of vaccines and antibiotics and the knowledge of how best to use them
  • How Many Abortions Are Too Much? • In most flocks the visible abortion rate is <2% • The accepted rate of abortion is <5% – concern if >5% – concern if clustering of abortions in time/group – chronic abortion rates of 2 – 5% yearly suggest an endemic problem INVESTIGATE
  • Record Keeping Abortion Rate = number of ewes aborting number of ewes pregnant or exposed to ram Lamb Mortality Rate (1st 7 days) = number of lambs born alive but dying in 1st 7 days number of lambs born alive
  • Causes of Abortion • Infectious Causes – – – – – – – – – Coxiella burnetii (Q Fever) Warning: Chlamydia abortus all 4 are Campylobacter ZOOnOTiC Toxoplasma !! Listeriosis Salmonella Border disease Leptospirosis Cache Valley • Non-infectious Causes – – – – Iodine deficiency Stress & trauma Selenium deficiency Starvation • energy/protein deficiency – Overnourishment • ewe lambs – Toxic plants
  • CCCT – Zoonotic Risks • Coxiella (Q fever) – flu-like symptoms, repeated fevers, pneumonia, heart & liver problems (inhalation, raw milk, indirect contact) • very few bacteria are required to cause infection in a human • Chlamydia – miscarriages / stillbirth in pregnant women (ingestion) • Campylobacter – vomiting, diarrhea, fever with C. jejuni (ingestion) • Toxoplasma – birth defects in human fetuses, inflammation of the brain in immunocompromised adults (undercooked meat, cleaning litter box, raw milk)
  • What do we See in Ontario? AHL Project (Hazlett et Final Diagnosis al, 2013) Sheep (cases,%) n=163 Goats (cases,%) n=96 Toxoplasma gondii 31 (19%) 16 (17%) Coxiella burnetii 12 (7%) 15 (16%) Chlamydia abortus 19 (12%) 36 (37%) Campylobacter spp 21 (13%) 0 Salmonella spp 3 (2%) 0 Listeria monocytogenes 1 (1%) 1 (1%) Other infectious bacteria 7 (4%) 5 (5%) 73 (45%) 30 (31%) Unknown cause
  • AHL Project • Coxiella was detected in 69% (113/163) of sheep abortions and 75% (72/96) of goat abortions M M N O – cause of abortion in 7% (s) and 16% (g) O C • Chlamydia was detected in 26% (42/163) of sheep abortions and 56% (54/96) of goat abortions – cause of abortion in 12% (s) and 37% (g)
  • Q Fever in Ontario • “Prevalence of Q fever (Coxiella burnetii) in Ontario sheep flocks and goat herds and their farm workers” – collaborative effort – OVC, OMAFRA, MOHLTC, PHO • 148 farms randomly selected (meat/dairy) – 35 animals per farm randomly selected – at least one lambing/kidding – blood test (antibodies) • farm management survey
  • Q Fever in Ontario -- Results • Meat sheep – farm-level: 42% positive flocks (21/50) • flock with at least one animal testing positive – animal-level: 10% positive sheep (166/1619) • Dairy sheep – farm-level: 64% positive flocks (14/22) – animal-level: 24% positive sheep (181/744) • Within-herd prevalence ranged from 0% - 74% for sheep farms
  • Q Fever in Ontario – Human Results • Farm workers tested if they wanted – 1-3 people/farm, >14 years of age – blood test (antibodies) – results for sheep and goat farm workers not separated – 79% of farms (59/75) had at least 1 person with antibodies to Coxiella – 67% of farm workers (116/172) had evidence of past infection/exposure
  • What You Might See in Your Animals • Return open – losses in early to mid gestation are often undetected • animals are rebred • Mummified fetuses – not common Ewes rarely become ill • Abortion – most commonly seen during last 2 months • Stillbirths • Weak lambs – often don’t survive past first week
  • Diagnosing the Cause of Abortions • Testing – very important to submit both the fetus AND placenta to a diagnostic lab • submit more than one fetus/placenta if possible • as clean as possible & not frozen (keep chilled) • cause of abortion can vary from year to year – blood samples taken from ewes not as useful • exposed versus cause of abortion • spend your money on placenta/fetal samples
  • Diagnosing the Cause of Abortions
  • Management of the Aborting Flock – Things •to Considerstill to lamb from those Separate females that have aborted – move to a clean area • keep aborted ewes in the contaminated pen or pasture – deal with females still to lamb first • prior to aborted females and new moms • Remove bedding & fetal materials (bury, compost)  decrease environmental load – wear masks to prevent inhalation of organisms – don’t spread manure when windy
  • Management of the Aborting Flock – Things to Consider • Remember the ZOONOTIC risks – wear gloves for all lambings • wash hands frequently – wear coveralls and boots • change and clean frequently during lambing • don’t wear the same ones to manage the rest of the flock – pregnant women should not assist at lambing • in addition to aborted, newly lambed – children & elderly also at risk – drinking raw milk is a risk factor
  • Coxiella burnetii (Q fever) • Common cause of abortion in sheep & goats – organism can survive in dust for years • Sources of the organism – aborted fetus, placenta, uterine fluids • cattle, cats, rodents, birds & insects can also be a source of the organism – vaginal discharge, milk, manure, urine – venereal spread by males – “carrier females” • immunity is not complete  large proportion of flock may be shedding with few abortions • shed organism but deliver normal lambs
  • Coxiella burnetii • Infected by inhaling contaminated air/dust or mucous membrane contact with aborted materials or birthing fluids – localizes in placenta • abortions, stillbirths and/or weak lambs • Treatment Menzies – antibiotics? • • • • may or may not stop further abortions carrier females will still shed the organism effectiveness of feed vs injections TALK TO drug residues in dairy animals YOUR
  • Coxiella burnetii • Prevention – separate pregnant ewes from aborting flock • management of environment & contaminated materials • don’t spread manure when windy – good management  avoid overcrowding, good nutrition – biosecurity  “buyer beware” – Coxevac® vaccine TALK TO • veterinary application to CFIA YOUR • decreases number of abortions VET • decreases shedding into the environment • vaccinate unexposed replacements twice before breeding, booster yearly
  • Chlamydia abortus • Common cause of abortion in sheep & goats • Sources of the organism – aborted fetus, placenta, uterine fluids • after aborting, immunity lasts about 3 years • birds and insects may play a role in spreading disease – “carrier females” • vaginal secretions at time of heat – rams can be temporarily infected • venereal spread – infected through mucous membranes or eating contaminated materials or feeds
  • Chlamydia abortus • Incubation period = 50 to 90 days • Individual Scenario – infected in early to mid gestation • abortion • stillbirths and/or weak lambs – infected in late gestation or when not pregnant • abort during next pregnancy • Naive Flock Scenario – 1st year  replacements abort – 2nd year  abortion storm – 3rd year  ewe lambs abort
  • • Treatment – antibiotics? • during an outbreak – multiple injections – effectiveness of feed vs injections – often poor results due to long incubation period & damage done to placenta – drug residues in dairy animals TALK TO YOUR VET Foster, AHL Chlamydia abortus
  • Chlamydia abortus • Prevention – separate pregnant ewes from aborting flock TALK TO YOUR VET • manage ewe lambs separately • management of environment & contaminated materials – vaccinate (Chlamydia psittaci Bacterin) • twice before breeding & booster yearly • vaccine does not prevent shedding but will decrease abortions • NOTE  cat vaccine does not work (different strain) – good management  avoid overcrowding – biosecurity  “buyer beware”
  • Campylobacter • Common cause of abortion in sheep • Campylobacter jejuni – sporadic abortions • more so in Ontario • Campylobacter fetus subspecies fetus – large abortion storms • more so in western flocks • Incubation period = 7 to 60 days
  • Campylobacter • Sources of the organism – “carrier sheep” have the organism in their intestines • environmental contamination via manure – aborted fetus, placenta, uterine fluids from aborted females – birds (crows) can spread organism between flocks – others infected by eating contaminated materials or feeds
  • Campylobacter • Most abortions occur during the 3 rd trimester – lesions seen on placenta & in fetus – ewes are not ill • some become immune (at least 3 years) • while others become carriers – if infected 2 weeks before lambing may see stillbirths and weak lambs
  • Campylobacter • Treatment & Prevention – antibiotics TALK TO YOUR VET • stop the outbreak • effectiveness of feed vs injections – separate pregnant ewes from aborting flock • management of environment & contaminated materials – vaccinate (Campylobacter fetus-jejuni Bacterin-Ovine) • twice before breeding & booster yearly • effectiveness questioned due to strain differences? – good management  avoid overcrowding – biosecurity  “buyer beware”
  • Toxoplasma • Common cause of abortion in sheep & goats – parasite infection • cat  rodent lifecycle • Source of the organism – nonimmune kittens are infected by eating rodents • shed large numbers of toxo eggs in their manure • kittens defecate & bury manure in hay & feeds – adult cats are immune, don’t shed eggs – sheep infected by eating contaminated feed and/or water
  • Toxoplasma • Individual Scenario – if ewe not pregnant but exposed to eggs • become immune and do not abort – if infected before 40 days post breeding • return open – if infected between 40 and 120 days • mummified fetuses, abortion – if infected after 120 days • stillbirths, weak and/or normal immune lambs • normal & affected can be delivered at one time
  • Toxoplasma • Immunity – life-long for sheep • No treatment for current abortions • Prevention – keep cat feces out of feed & water • provide litter box, don’t feed top bales, feed bins • stray cat & pasture control difficult – neuter kittens and control rodents • exposing youngstock to kittens works poorly – coccidiostat fed throughout gestation • no evidence that it treats existing infections
  • Conclusions • • • • Abortions are costly to your bottom line Visible abortion rate <5% Investigate  submit placenta (and fetus) CCCT most common causes – ZOONOTIC!! • Separate pregnant females from aborting flock • Use of vaccines and antibiotics • Biosecurity  “Buyer Beware”, clean coveralls, gloves, hand washing, masks, etc
  • Questions ?