We sometimes come across disease cases which don’t have any identifiable origin. This was the case with a flock that Andrew visited recently:

A flock of 512 predominantly Swaledale ewes identified six Bluefaced Leicester tups at the end of the first cycle of mating in November with blood at the end of their prepuce. On further inspection significant swelling was noted on the prepuce. The tups were then brought in for inspection by a vet. On veterinary examination of the tups it was found all had extensive infection of their penis’ with splits in the glans and the prepuce had large amounts of purulent discharge. The cause was initially suspected to be a rogue ewe with a vaginal prolapse stitch in place in its vulva. This could have been the cause as this was a newly established flock of ewes of mixed age. All ewes within this mating mob were examined, but none were found to have stitches in place. However, 30 or roughly 10% of the mob were found to have lesions on their vulva’s as per pictures 1 & 2.

Image of lesions found on vulva

A further visit was undertaken to collect samples from the lesions on the ewes and swabs to try and identify an infectious cause of the signs presenting in ewes and tups within this group. This was only a day after the initial inspection of the ewes, with some already appearing to heal. Samples were submitted to APHA, however no infectious agents were identified for a wide range of viral and bacterial pathogens. This is consistent with exhaustive examinations previously performed by APHA, which have found no infectious agent. In addition, transmission studies with scab material have failed to reproduce the condition.

Surprisingly, libido of the rams is reported to be largely unaffected and was in this instance. However, despite appropriate treatment the rams failed to heal adequately to allow return to the flock for subsequent mating’s. It is reported subsequent lambing’s are unaffected, though it is unclear whether this means scanning percentage is immediately affected. In this case the flock scanned at 144% (inclusive of barren ewes), with an expectation of 150 – 160%.

If anyone has experienced anything similar we would like to hear from you as this could be a regional pattern of an emerging disease, which might require/warrant further examination by APHA.