Pneumonia in sheep is a condition that occurs when the lungs are inflamed because of an infection. In sheep in South Africa, this is usually due to primary bacterial infections (bacterial infections without preceding viral infections). Along with Wireworm infestation, pneumonia is one of the most common causes of sheep losses. In lambs the bacteria may cause sudden deaths due to septicaemia. In older animals the bacteria may cause acute pneumonia with accompanying mortalities, or develop into chronic pneumonia leading to poor production.
Pneumonia in sheep is caused by:
The bacteria mentioned above are normal inhabitants of the sheep`s respiratory system and under normal circumstances, will cause no problems. When the animals are stressed and their immunity is compromised however, the bacteria will invade the lungs and cause pathology.
Conditions that increase the risk include:
Note that an outbreak of pneumonia shortly after management procedures such as drenching, may be due to incorrect dosing technique which will result in aspiration pneumonia. A veterinarian will be able to confirm this diagnosis by performing a post mortem.
Treatment with an appropriate antibiotic (after consulting your vet) may be considered. Infected animals should be quarantined. Prevention is better than treatment.
NB. There are very good commercial vaccines available against Pasteurella multocida and Mannheimia haemolytica which are the main role-players in sheep pneumonia. Implement a permanent vaccination programme in the flock with the help of a veterinarian.
Reduce transportation stress and provide good-quality water and food. Keep sick animals in a separate dry location. Supplement food to build up the animals’ immune systems and natural barriers. Ensure that there is good ventilation in the animals’ housing. Monitor animals for any signs of pneumonia. Apply correct dosing practices and try to soften any sudden environmental changes. Protect animals against extremely dusty environments. Quarantine new additions to the flock and monitor the flock for any signs of pneumonia after new animals have been added.
View our product catalogue for supplements to build the animals’ immune systems and get in touch for more information about treatment and prevention options for pneumonia in sheep.