Also Known As: Ram Epididymitis — Orchitis — Ovine Contagious Epididymitis — Brucella ovis Epididymitis.
Ovine brucellosis causes reproductive disease in sheep, mainly in rams.
B. ovis is the least virulent of all the Brucella species.
The disease is on List B of the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) It is therefore notifiable to the OIE.
The disease is unique to sheep.
Present in all countries where sheep are intensively farmed. It is transmitted mainly through semen but shedding is unreliable.
Ewes can also act as indirect vectors for brucellosis if they mate with both an infected and uninfected ram during the same oestrus cycle.
Abortion materials and vaginal discharge also contain Brucella organisms
Brucellosis is not considered zoonotic.
Testicular atrophy occurs in chronic infections.
Occasionally also abortion in ewes and weak lambs. This only occurs due to placental necrosis in ewes exposed in the first two trimesters of pregnancy.
Palpation of the testes is suggestive but not definitive.
Specific immunofluorescent staining of semen smears is confirmatory.
Brucella organisms can also be isolated from the epididymis and accessory sex glands at necropsy, although excretion is intermittent so false negatives are not uncommon.
ELISA and Complement Fixation are also commonly used for serological diagnosis.
Antibiotic therapy is very expensive, prolonged and ineffective.
Testing and culling of breeding stock is essential to ensure carriers are not present within a flock.
Vaccination is available against both Brucella species, but B. ovis vaccines are only widely used in New Zealand. Any vaccination will interfere wih serological diagnosis and this should be considered.
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The datasheet was accessed on 6 June 2011.
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