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Scab Warning Issued Ahead of Sales Season

06 August 2015

UK – Sheep scab is a notifiable disease and “too risky to get wrong”, warns a Scottish veterinarian ahead of autumn sales.

Neil Laing of Clyde Vet Group in Scotland has advised that farms keep bought-in sheep in isolation for seven days and treat scab via injections or dipping.

He said: “The sheep scab mites like to live in warm areas on a sheep – places like armpits and ears. By plunge dipping correctly, you get an immediate kill of all the mites.

“If you see agitated sheep rubbing or nibbling at themselves, investigate. If you suspect scab, it’s important to pluck wool for analysis from the right location.”

South Lanarkshire farmer, Andrew Baillie, who farms on a Quality Meat Scotland monitor farm, has estimated costs in the “tens of thousands of pounds.”

“I’m fully aware of the problems an outbreak of sheep scab on the farm could create,” said Mr Baillie. “It could easily jeopardise a whole season’s worth of tup sales.”

A new diagnostic blood test for sheep scab has been developed by Edinburgh’s Moredun Institute, scheduled for launch in September.

The test detects sheep scab antibodies before symptoms show on sheep.

“This quick and simple test will be really helpful,” explained Mr Laing. “The recommendation is that just eleven sheep from each flock are blood-sampled, to establish whether or not antibodies are present.

“There will many opportunities to utilise this test, including blood sampling sheep on farms neighbouring a confirmed outbreak. It will also help farmers within a specific area to work together to control scab.”

TheSheepSite News Desk

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