Dis­ease warn­ing

Southern Riverina news - - RURAL OUTLOOK -

Re­cent pos­i­tive tests, and on­go­ing con­cerns that the dis­ease is spread­ing throughout NSW, has prompted the Livestock Health and Pest Au­thor­i­ties (LHPA) to en­cour­age all sheep pro­duc­ers to test their rams for ovine bru­cel­losis.

Ovine bru­cel­losis is a vene­real dis­ease caused by the bac­te­ria Bru­cella ovis. It causes lumps and scars in the ram’s tes­ti­cle which can block the flow of sperm.

Rive­rina LHPA se­nior dis­trict vet Dan Salmon said many pro­duc­ers are un­aware of the dis­ease and the prob­lems it can cause – re­duced fer­til­ity or in­fer­til­ity, lower lamb­ing per­cent­ages, longer join­ing and lamb­ing in­ter­vals and con­se­quent eco­nomic losses.

‘‘In the late 1990s, test­ing of all rams in the for­mer Rive­rina RLPB dis­trict (Moulamein and De­niliquin) re­vealed that ovine bru­cel­losis was present in one third of ram flocks,’’ he said.

‘‘There is no ef­fec­tive treat­ment for bru­cel­losis and all pro­duc­ers are at risk. In­fected rams spread the dis­ease dur­ing join­ing through the ewe or off-sea­son through sodomy.

‘‘Preven­tion is the key with this dis­ease. Pro­duc­ers should only buy rams from an Ovine Bru­cel­losis Ac­cred­ited Stud and also reg­u­larly check rams.’’

Pro­duc­ers can eas­ily check their own rams by feel­ing for ab­nor­mal lumps in the rams’ tes­ti­cles.

‘‘This should be done twice a year, well in ad­vance of join­ing and re­cently af­ter the last join­ing. This will al­low enough time for re-tests if they are needed,’’ Dr Salmon said.

‘‘Any lumps or bumps should be fur­ther in­ves­ti­gated – this in­volves con­tact­ing your vet who will or­gan­ise blood test­ing. Your vet will also dis­cuss the op­tions avail­able.

‘‘If you are un­sure about the rams you have pur­chased, keep them sep­a­rate from your home rams un­til you have them blood tested.

‘‘Also re­mem­ber that rams of­ten move freely across or through bound­ary fences, po­ten­tially pick­ing up dis­eases and bring­ing them back to your prop­erty.’’

Pro­duc­ers wish­ing to es­tab­lish a group to com­bat ovine bru­cel­losis should contact their lo­cal LHPA for as­sis­tance.

Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on ovine bru­cel­losis, in­clud­ing the list of ovine bru­cel­losis ac­cred­ited flocks, is avail­able at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agri­cul­ture/livestock/sheep/health/ovine­bru­cel­losis-scheme.

Dr Salmon can be con­tacted on 0428 629 278.

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