By D. Scott Adams.
Respiratory diseases involving the nasal passages, throat, and lungs are common in sheep and goats, particularly among the young. Pneumonia, inflammation of the lungs, is the most common problem of economic concern.
Acute Pneumonia. This type of pneumonia occurs most commonly in lambs and kids but sometimes in adults.
Usually the disease is caused by interaction of a number of agents and factors which include viruses, mycoplasmas, bacteria, host genetics, environment, and management. Failure to receive enough colostrum (first milk) in the first few hours of life, and cold windy weather or humid barns with poor ventilation, also may lead to problems.
Signs include difficult, loud, or rapid breathing, and coughing. The head may be extended and the tongue protruded in severe cases. In all but terminal stages the animal will have a fever.
The viruses, bacteria and other infectious agents that may be involved in this type of pneumonia are spread by direct contact and through the air at relatively short distances.
If you have not previously consulted a veterinarian for this type of disease, it is strongly recommended that you do because a specific diagnosis is crucial to correct treatment. Antibiotics and rest are important, as well as other supportive treatment which your veterinarian may prescribe.
New born kids and lambs should receive adequate colostrum. Avoid overcrowding, high humidity and poor ventilation in shelters and unnecessary exposure of young animals to stress like transportation, and to outside animals.
Parasitic Pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is caused by several types of worms which invade the lung and cause damage to it. Sheep and goats grazing on infected pastures eat immature forms of worms.
Heavily infected young sheep and goats show difficult breathing, coughing, poor condition, weakness, and snotty noses. Submit manure samples and lungs of dead animals to your veterinarian for diagnosis.
Treatment First obtain a specific diagnosis from your veterinarian, who then can prescribe the proper de-wormer.
Life cycle of the worms can be interrupted by draining wet pastures and avoiding grazing those that cannot be drained. Periodic treatment with dewormers controls severe infections.
These are infections of the lungs of adult animals and have a slow onset. The cause is several chronic bacteria and persistent viruses.
Adult animals are first observed having difficulty breathing during and after exercise.
The bacteria are spread from animals carrying abscesses to others through cuts and breaks in the skin. The viruses are transmitted mainly from the dam to the newborn through the milk and colostrum and through the air or direct contact, particularly when animals are crowded and have poor ventilation.
There is no treatment for the viruses, and response of the bacteria to antibiotics is poor.
The bacterial infections can be reduced by culling animals with abscesses and reducing the likelihood of cuts and abrasions, for instance at shearing. Good clean surroundings without excessive crowding may help reduce the number of new infections.
The viral diseases can be prevented if lambs or kids are removed from the dams at birth and raised on a safe source of milk. Consult your veterinarian for details.
Nose, Throat Ills
A wide variety of things may cause disease in this area.
Causes nasal bots or larvae (maggots) of a fly which live in the nasal sinuses. Tumors in the nasal passages and throat. Abscesses, particularly from Corynebacteria spp., in the throat area. Bluetongue virus.
Often sheep and sometimes goats get "snotty noses" from nasal bots and have noisy breathing. A similar picture is seen with tumors in the nasal passages. Abscesses in the throat may be seen on the outside of the neck but not necessarily, and if not they may cause difficult breathing. Bluetongue virus causes severe illness in sheep and goats with reddening of the nose and mouth, fever and rapid respiration. The tongue may become very swollen.
Spread nasal bots are immature forms of a fly that lays its eggs in the nasal sinuses of sheep. The cause of tumors is thought to be a virus but is still not definitely determined. Abscesses are transmitted from infected animals to others through breaks in the skin. Bluetongue virus is spread by small biting flies mostly in the fall of the year.
Nasal bots can be treated with various insectides recommended for sheep and goats. If the other diseases are encountered, contact your veterinarian for advice.
Nasal bots may be prevented by rotating pastures, since the flies do not travel long distances or live very long. Vaccination for bluetongue is of limited value but may help in some areas, and eliminating water where biting flies breed can provide some aid.
D. Scott Adams is with USDA's Agricultural Research Service at the Animal Disease Research Unit, Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman.