29 October 1999

More sheep scab about, but severity is unknown

MORE sheep than usual may be infected with scab this autumn, but how severe outbreaks are remains unknown.

Peter Bates of the Central Vet Lab, Weybridge, Surrey, says there has been no difficulty finding sheep infected with scab for research, suggesting it is prevalent. But as scab is no longer a notifiable disease, actual incidence and severity is hard to gauge.

However, more cases occur in winter with the peak typically in January and February, he adds.

Treatment and prevention have become more complicated since compulsory dipping ended, adding to confusion over what products to choose.

"No pour-ons are licenced for sheep scab, but some producers still use them believing they will control it," he says. Dipping and injectables are available for treating scab, but using showers and jetting races involves off-licence use of products, he warns.

Product guidelines vary, so seek guidance from the merchant or a vet. But dont rely on this alone, also read the label for yourself before using products, Mr Bates advises. &#42