Monday, July 22, 2024

Sheep Diseases, Symptoms, Treatment Guide

Sheep Diseases, Symptoms, Treatment Guide

Diseases and Prevention in Sheep:

Sheep are affected by a variety of infectious and noninfectious diseases. Some diseases are called zoonotic diseases, which are dangerous to human beings. Below are diseases that are seen in sheep farming.

Abomasal bloat:

This disease mainly affects the artificially-reared lambs. This disease mainly effects the sheep that are hand-fed with warm milk.

Symptoms: Abomasal bloat is a bacterial disease, the infected lambs have swollen bellies and abdominal pain and discomfort.

Treatment: antibiotics are available for this disease, consult the veterinarian for treatment. Add probiotics or yogurt to milk replacements will prevent this disease.

Abomasal emptying defect (AED):

This disease mainly effects the Suffolk sheep over the age of two.

  • Symptoms: loss of appetite and loss of weight.
  • Treatment: Treatment will be successful when the disease is diagnosed at an early stage, it’s  tough to cure disease in an advanced stage. Affected sheep should not be kept for breeding. Consult the veterinarian if you observe sudden weight in sheep.


Abortion in sheep is due to common infectious cause of Chlamydia (Enzootic abortion), Campylobacter (Vibrio), and Toxoplasma gondii (Toxoplasmosis).

  • Brucellosis: Brucellosis is an infectious disease seen in sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, dogs, and other animals. This causes abortion during the second half of gestation.
  • Cache Valley Virus: it is a virus spread through mosquitoes. This virus may lead to abortion, if the sheep is infected at less than 28 days of gestation. And it won’t show any adverse effects if infected after 45 days of pregnancy.
  • Campylobacteriosis (Vibrio, vibriosis): Abortions at last months or gives birth to weak baby. Vaccinations and antibiotics are available. Good sanitation and constant supervision will keep protect them this disease.
  • Leptospirosis: this disease occurs during the  last month of pregnancy.
  • Q Fever: it is a  bacterial disease, causes abortion during the last months of pregnancy.  Symptoms are illness and loss of appetite.
  • Salmonella: this disease may cause abortion in early or last month’s gestation. Symptoms are diarrhea, metritis, peritonitis and septicemia.
  • Vaccination schedule: Vaccination should be done before breeding and repeated in 60 to 90 days. Vaccination should be done annually.


Lactic acidosis is a disease due excess grain feeds, excess grains in feed will produce high levels of acid.

  • Symptoms: depression, abdominal pain and listless. Acidity in sheep is a serious problem.
  • Treatment: Affected sheep should be treated with antacids like carmalax, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), or products containing magnesium carbonate or magnesium hydroxide. This disease can be controlled by proper feeding management. Grains should be introduced gradually in a proper quantity.


Arthritis is inflammation of the joints of the legs, which leads to loss production, loss of carcass value and may lead to death. This is bacterial diseases that enters the body through wounds or broken skin, for example, the infection enters through the umbilical cord after delivering, during docking, castration, and ear tagging.

  • Symptoms: Infected sheep will have swollen joint, and feel hot, and painful to move.
  • Treatment: Treatment is by giving massive doses of antibiotics. Best method to prevent arthritis is through good sanitation and hygiene.

Bacterial meningitis

Bacterial meningitis mainly affects lambs 2 to 4 weeks old.

  • Symptoms: Depression, hunger, and extreme weakness. Affected lambs sometimes have abdominal gait.
  • Treatment: Treat this disease with antibiotics and consult the veterinarian as soon as observe early symptoms.

Bent leg:

Bent leg is a disease due to malfunction of bone metabolism. Affects the lambs of age between 6 and 12 months.

  • Prevention and Treatment: Balanced feed, avoid high protein food, increase feed rich calcium and phosphorous, and the house should have good exposure to the sun in winter.


Bloat affected due to excess gas elimination. Bloat can be serious problem can lead to death in case of negligence.

  • Symptoms: The skin on the left side of the animal behind the last rib may appear distended.

There are 2 sorts of bloat: frothy and free gas.

  • Frothy Bloat: this causes due to consumption of legume forages, grazing in cereal pasture or wet grass pastures. Treatment-treat the infected sheep with anti-foaming agent.
  • Free Gas Bloat: occurs due to excess grain feedings. Treatment: inserting a needle or trochar into the abdomen can relieve from this problem.


It is a viral disease; infected flock may die.

  • Symptoms: Inflammation, swelling, and hemorrhage of the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, and tongue. Soreness and inflammation of the feet can also be observed in infected sheep.
  • Treatments: Vaccinations are available, but they don’t prevent this completely. Pregnant sheep should not be vaccinated.

Border Disease: This disease mainly seen in newborn lambs.

  • Symptoms: Infected lambs have a hairy coat and trembles uncontrollably. Sheep affected by this disease will symptoms like open ewes, abortion, weak and frail lambs, abnormal hair coat, and nervous weakness that makes lamb shake.
  • Prevention and Treatment: There is no treatment for this disease, virus won’t respond to the antibiotics. Consult the veterinarian in case you observe any symptoms.

Caseous Lymphadenitis:

It is a contagious disease, that infect lymphatic system.

  • Symptoms: You can observe abscess formation in the lymph nodes, which discharges pus to surroundings, when ruptured or cut. When the infection spread gradually, the infected animals will loss weight and become emaciated.
  • Treatment: Good hygiene can control this disease to some extent. Vaccination is available, consult the veterinarian for schedule.

Clostridial Diseases:

Clostridial diseases are enterotoxemias (C, D), and tetanus.

Enterotoxemia type C: It mainly infects the lambs during the first few weeks of birth. This disease causes due to indigestion, change in feed, or increase in milk supply.

  • Treatment: Vaccinating the pregnant sheep 30 days before lambing is the better the preventive method.

Enterotoxemia type D: This disease causes due to overeating. Mainly affects the largest and fast-growing lambs that consume high concentrate rations.

  • Treatment: Vaccinate the pregnant sheep 30 days before lambing for prevention.


This is a disease that enters through the wounds.

  • Symptoms: The infected animals will have stiff gait; the sheep go down with legs held out straight and stiff and head drawn back.
  • Treatment: Vaccinations, antibiotics and anti-serum and available. Vaccinate the pregnant sheep 30 days before the lambing. If you don’t vaccinate pregnant ewes, treat the lamb with anti-toxin at time docking or castrating.
  1. Coli scours (watery mouth): This disease affects due to poor sanitation.
  • Symptoms: Diarrhea, watery mouth, dehydration, and coma.
  • Treatment: Treat the infected sheep with  oral, subcutaneous or intraperitoneal fluids and treatment antibiotics consulting veterinarian. Good sanitation in the house, providing clean and dry environment for lambing will prevent this disease.

Entropion: It is an eye disease, the lower eyelid is inverted, which causes eyelashes of the lower lid to brush against the eye. This may lead to corneal ulceration, scarring, and blindness. This infection affects one or both eyes.

Treatment: Treat the infection by injecting antibiotics to the skin of the affected eyelid. Consult veterinarian if you observe eye infection in sheep.

Fly Strike (blow flies, wool maggots, fleece worms, myiasis): It is the infestation of flesh, more common in sheep due to their thick wool. Wool attracts the flies mainly in the summer season.

  • Treatment: Docking, shearing and removing contaminated wool will prevent flystrike. You can use insecticides which are the best method to control flystrike.

Lice: These are small insects they stay on the skin and cause severe irritation and itching. Severe infection can lead to anemia.

  • Treatment: Use the insecticides to control lice.

Nasal bots (bot flies, head bots): Bot flies deposits tiny larvae on the muzzles or nostrils.

  • Symptoms: Snotty nose, weight reduction and sinuses are major symptoms. Infected Animals make their heads down or hide in a corner.
  • Treatment: Use suitable insecticide formulation containing ivermectin  by consulting a veterinarian.

Scabies: It is contagious diseases in sheep, sheep scab caused by mites feeding on sheep skin.

  • Symptoms: Severe wool fall, itching and reddened skin.
  • Treatment: The best method treat this kind of insecticides is to dip the sheep in insecticides.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD): It is a common disease in sheep.

  • Symptoms: High fever, blisters on the tongues, lips, mouth, teats and hooves. Infected sheep losses its weight and you can observe reduced milk and meat production. This disease cause mortality in young animals.
  • Treatment:Vaccinations are available and consult the veterinarian for suitable medicine.

Footrot: It is highly contagious bacterial disease, caused by a bacteria that lives in animal hoof.

  • Symptoms: Lameness, and foul odor from the infected area.
  • Treatment: This disease can be controlled by hoof trimming, vaccination, foot bathing and soaking and culling. Zinc sulfate is the most effective foot rot treatment.

Foot Scald:

  • Symptoms: Sheep toes turn blanched or white, or red and swelled. A wet environment is the root cause for this disease.
  • Treatment: Keep infected sheep in a dry area free from mud and water. Treat the infected sheep with koopertox or zinc sulfate foot batbath.

Goiter: It is a disease caused due to enlargement of the thyroid gland. Low levels of iodine in pregnant sheep are the main cause of this disease in newborn lambs.

  • Symptoms: Swollen throat, low or no wool production, weakness and loss of appetite.
  • Treatment: There is treatment for this disease, the infected sheep can  be survived if the disease is in early stage. Feeding the pregnant sheep with food that contains 0.07% of iodine will protect newborn from this disease.

Grass tetany: It is the most common disease that affects due to magnesium deficiency. This problem mainly raises in within 4-6 weeks of lambing.

  • Symptoms:  Infected sheep are sensitive to touch and trembling of the facial muscles and are unable to move, in some cases, they may collapse and show repeated tetanic spasms with legs extended upwards. Treatment: Treat the infected sheep with calcium borogluconate and magnesium hypophosphite. Or can add supplemental magnesium to feed.

Hypothermia (chilling): It is a serious disease that leads to death in lambs. Mainly infects the new born lambs, newborn cannot regulate their body temperature during their first 48 hours.

  • Symptoms: Low body temperature (36°C or below).
  • Treatment: If the infected lamb is five hours old treat it with intraperitoneal injection. Lambs should the covered with a dry towel and put in the warming box using dry heat. Feed the infected sheep with colostrum. Consult veterinarian for proper guidance. Provide clean and warm shelter foe ewes and new born.

Internal Parasites Diseases in Sheep:

Cryptosporidios: Usually infects the young lambs of age below one month.

  • Symptoms: Dehydration, diarrhea, weak, and are unable to suck the milk.
  • Prevention and Treatment: Keeping the house and lamb clean is best prevention method.  Keep the new born in dry clean and warm area. Consult veterinarian if you observe symptoms for proper treatment.

Coccidiosis: This disease mainly infects the lamb due to stress.

  • Symptoms: The main symptom is diarrhea may be bloody or smeared with mucous.
  • Treatment: This disease mainly infects die to overstocking and poor hygiene. It can be prevented by using Lasolocid (Bovatec®), Monensin (Rumensin®), or Decoquinate (Deccox®) in the feed or mineral. It can treatment with Amprolium or sulfa medications.

Stomach worms: Sheep are highly affected with stomach worms (barber pole and brown worm). These parasites are blood sucking and causing blood and protein loss.

  • Symptoms: Anemia (pale eyelid) and diarrhea.
  • Treatment: Worm vaccination is  available, deworm the sheep for every six months.

Tapeworms: symptoms: Diarrhea:, weight loss, and illness.

  • Treatment: Treat the infected sheep with benzimadazoles and Praziquantel (available extra-label in Quest® Plus or Zimectrin® Gold). Good sanitation and nutritional feed will prevent this disease.

Joint or navel ill: Mainly occurs in young lambs of age up to one month.

  • Symptoms: Fever, inactive, swollen and infected navels. Infected lambs often lame in several joints, usually limb joints, including fetlocks, knees, hocks and stifles.
  • Treatment: Treat the infected lamb with a long-acting penicillin. Joint ill can be prevented by good hygiene and using a navel dip, such as betadine or gentle iodine.

Lameness: Lameness in sheep occurs due to foot conditions like Footrot and scald, strawberry foot, foot abscess, foot-and-mouth disease, Bluetongue, scald, sore mouth, arthritis, nutritional deficiencies, and physical injuries.

  • Treatment:Regular hoof inspection and foot pairing will control these problems.

Milk fever:

Milk fever is a metabolic disease that affects pregnant ewes. It is most commonly caused calcium deficiency prior or after lambing.

  • Symptoms: High fever and illness.
  • Treatment: Milk fever can be prevented by giving proper levels of calcium in ewe diets mainly during late gestation. Milk fever can be treated with calcium gluconate.

Pink eye: Highly contagious disease in sheep.  This disease lasts up to three weeks in each sheep.

  • Treatment: It can be treated with antibiotics, consult veterinarian for medication. There are effective vaccinations for this disease.

Pneumonia: It is a  respiratory disease in sheep.

  • Symptoms: Depression, cough, breathing problems, high fever and loss of appetite.
  • Treatment: Antibiotics are available to treat this disease, consult the veterinarian as soon as you observe above symptoms.

Polio: It is a disease of the central nervous system. Mainly affects the lambs that consume high concentrate diets and caused due to vitamin B1 deficiency.

  • Symptoms: Blindness and stargazing.
  • Treatment: Consult the veterinarian as soon you observe blindness in lamb.

Polyarthritis: It mainly infects the nursing lambs, recently weaned lambs, and feedlot lambs.

  • Symptoms: Stiffness, reluctance to move, depression, loss of body weight, and conjunctivitis
  • Treatment: Infected Lambs are with broad-spectrum antibiotics or tetracycline drugs.

Pregnancy Toxemia: It is a metabolic disease that affects ewes during the last months of pregnancy. It is a common disease in thin ewes, overweight ewes, older ewes, and/or ewes carrying multiple fetuses.

  • Treatment: Provide good amounts of glucose to the ewe intravenously or propylene glycol or molasses orally. Feed the ewes with energy foods 1 lbs of grains per day.

Rabies: It is a viral disease spread through bites or scratches, abrasions, or open wounds in the skin.

  • Symptoms: Difficulty in swallowing, watery mouth, abnormal behavior, lethargy and lying down, and paralysis.
  • Treatment: Vaccination is available, vaccinate the sheep with rabies vaccine.

Ringworm: It is a fungal infection, primarily shown in lambs.

  • Symptoms: Lesions on the head, neck, and back.
  • Treatment: Treat them with anti-fungal agents. Good sanitation will prevent this disease.

Soremouth: It is a most common skin disease in sheep.

  • Symptoms: It is a viral infection forms scab on the skin, usually around the mouth, nostrils, eyes, mammary gland and vulva.
  • Treatment: There is no treatment for this infection, this disease will run its course for 4 weeks. Vaccinations are available, vaccinate the sheep annually to prevent this disease.

Urinary calculi: This disease causes stones in the urinary tract and blockage of  the urethra.

  • Symptoms: Causes retention of urine, abdominal pain, distention and rupture of the urethra or bladder.
  • Treatment: Providing good balanced diet with minerals in proper ration is preferred. Add ammonium chloride to the ration will prevent urinary calculi. Adding salt to ration will increase water intake and reduce chances for stone formation.

White muscle disease: This disease mainly caused due to vitamin deficiency.

  • Symptoms: Stiffness of the hind legs with an arched back and tucked in flanks.
  • Treatment: Give selenium and vitamin E by injection. Feed ration should provide adequate levels of selenium and vitamin E. Dietary supplementation of selenium and vitamin E is usually preferred to selenium injections. Team Team is a comprehensive online platform dedicated to providing valuable agricultural information and resources in Pakistan. With a focus on promoting sustainable farming practices, enhancing agricultural productivity, and empowering farmers, serves as a one-stop hub for all things related to agriculture in Pakistan. Through its user-friendly interface and a vast array of content, the platform aims to connect farmers, researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders, facilitating knowledge exchange and driving the transformation of the agricultural sector in Pakistan.

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