How to deal with a Pasteurella vaccine shortage
DOHNE-MERINO, FARMING, MANAGEMENT | May 6, 2021
A Pasteurella vaccine shortage in South Africa (from Onderstepoort where the vaccines are created) earlier this year put Suidplaas Dohnes on high alert to protect our sheep against the disease.
While the vaccine doesn’t offer 100% protection (few vaccines around the world do), it’s been a vital component to protect our herds against Pasteurellosis.
Without it, we’ve had to manage our Dohnes accordingly.
Wynand du Toit, Suidplaas Dohnes owner, says, “Many sheep farmers will likely have come across Pasteurellosis – a deadly disease for sheep. It’s fairly common, especially when sheep herds aren’t managed optimally. Vaccines are the ideal way to protect herds. But even when vaccines aren’t available, there are still many steps you can take to minimise it.”
Pasteurellosis is in fact caused by bacteria that occur naturally in the nose and throat of healthy sheep. The problem develops when the bacteria move from their natural environment into the lungs, which causes pneumonia and septicaemia. And it often results in death.
Given the vaccine shortage, our Suidplaas Dohnes team sought to reduce or remove any stress factors (Pasteurella most often develops during times of stress).
– That meant ensuring our herds weren’t underfed, or that we suddenly changed their diet.
– We avoided moving our sheep long distances, in stressful conditions (especially chasing herds, as opposed to letting them walk to new camps).
– It was best to avoid putting large numbers together in small spaces.
– And when we had to work with the sheep, we would work as quickly and gently as possible, with minimal sheep ‘handling’.
Pasteurellosis can also be caused by sudden weather changes, especially the onset of extreme cold and wind. And right now, we’re heading into the winter season here in the Overberg.
Without vaccines, sheep can still be treated for Pasteurellosis, if the symptoms are noticed in time. Antibiotics are available to treat the disease, so speak to your vet about the best option.
And wherever possible, try to vaccinate your herds, including your lambs from an early age (as soon as the effects of the colostrum wear off).
Wynand says, “We’re pleased that the Pasteurella vaccine is once again available from other pharmaceutical companies and we have now taken all the steps to ensure our herds are vaccinated and protected.”
Dohne Merinos are extremely hardy, and can withstand temperature changes and adverse conditions very well.
That’s what makes this dual-purpose breed so successful, especially when the aim is to improve the genetics of your herd constantly.
At Suidplaas, we take additional steps to protect our lambing ewes and their lambs, by bringing them into our lambing booths during the chilly winter months. Here it’s also easier for the lambs to consume the mother’s colostrum, which provides a natural vaccine against Pasteurellosis during the first few weeks.
How do you know if your Dohne has Pasteurellosis? Take a look out for these symptoms:
- Lung infection symptoms are usually noticeable first.
- Sheep often lose their appetite and become listless.
- During early stages, they may have ‘water-like’ fluid around their nose.
- During advanced Pasteurellosis, this becomes yellow.
- Animals struggle to breathe.
- When you move the sheep, they have a dry and painful cough.