Sore mouth in Sheep

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Shannonmcmom, Sep 19, 2005.

  1. Shannonmcmom

    Shannonmcmom Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2005

    I was just reading a past post about sore mouth in sheep. We have had some nasty problems with our sheep. We got them in May and I am still shaking my head.... We had foot rot and are still fighting to get rid of it. Right now we have sheep who have sore mouths. In the post I had read described it perfectly. Sores around the mouth and on the nose. They are eating just fine though. I had read about stinging nettle in that post and I am wondering if that could be what it was from. We have lots of stinging nettle around here. The goats don't have it so I don't know if it is contagious to them or not.. Is there anything that we should do about it?

    Just wondering....

    Thank you
  2. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

    Nov 26, 2004
    New Zealand
    Hi Shannon,
    The sheep could just have irritation from something like the nettles or they could have Scabby Mouth, also known as Orf or Contagious Ecthyma. Are these animals adult sheep or lambs as Scabby Mouth is more commonly seen in lambs but not necessarily confined to them.

    Scabby mouth is a viral infection of the skin and is usually seen in the summer months. Thistles, gorse etc. which can cause wounds around the mouth predispose sheep to infection. The infection runs a course of up to four weeks after which time the sheep will have life-time immunity to it. However, the virus lives for a long time in the environment and will be passed on to successive generations of sheep.

    Scabby Mouth can be vaccinated against but before doing so, ensure that is what the problem is as the vaccination is "live". This means that if you don't actually have Scabby Mouth, you will be importing it on to your property by vaccination.


  3. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 9, 2002
    Orf is somewhat rare in adult sheep but there are different strains of it. Could be ring worm which is contagous to humans (so is orf for that matter) lots of sun light helps and unless there's been major advancements waiting both out is all you can do. If the vet is out for any reason get a profesional opinion. I always felt when starting up that a vet call paid for its self by educating me!
  4. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

    Aug 8, 2004
    Shannon, I am sorry that you are having so many problems right off the bat with your new sheep. Soremouth looks like scabby little warts around the mouth and nose which may or may not be bloody.
    Don't touch the sores with your bare hands, you can get it and from what I've heard, it is very painful! The infection will run it's coarse in about a month. If I were you, I'd bleach everything to see if you can't kill the virus so it won't infect your lambs next year. A friend of mine who had it successfully got rid of it by pouring bleach water over everything, including the soil. He bleached everything that the sheep had contact with for 3 weekends in a row. He said to be careful to soak all pourous surfaces, like wood, where the virus hides. The virus is persistant, but it can be beaten.
  5. redroving

    redroving Well-Known Member

    Sep 27, 2005
    Merced, CA
    If you do have sore mouth and you have lambs, then look at the ewes udders. We have had lambs with sore mouth that infected the udders of the ewe. On one ewe it closed up the teat in which our vet could not open it back up. After that episode, as soon as we saw sore mouth on a lamb, we caught the sibling and mother and isolated them. We treated the mouths by pulling off the blisters (using gloves) and applying 7% iodine, then daily using providine ointment on the sores until they healed within a few days. On the ewe we flipped her over and inspected her bag, using the same treatment if we saw any signs of a blister. Usually we could let them back out in the group after one week.
    As the years have passed we have seen less and less sore mouth (this year none). The time we lost the ewes bag was our worst (and first time). We picked it up when we showed at State Fair and brought it back to our property. That year about half the lambs had sore mouth with a few being so involved that they had blisters half way up the muzzle (that was the worst case lamb and the ewe that got the sore on her teat). The outbreak was so fast we didn't see it right away. Luckily 10 years later our flock is more and more resistant.