23 May 1997

Shear care call to buck CLA

SHEEP producers should ensure they employ good hygiene during shearing to avoid spreading caseous lymphadenitis (CLA).

So warns SAC vet Graham Baird, who says that risk of spreading the disease – which is rarely fatal, but is difficult to eradicate – is highest at shearing.

The bacterial infection, which causes large abscesses on the sheeps body, has been diagnosed in only a few flocks in the UK.

But incidence is increasing in the Scottish Borders and Northum- berland.

During shearing, scratches will allow bacteria to enter the skin, so clipper blades which are contaminated can infect large numbers of sheep. And contaminated shearing equipment can also pass CLA from one farm to another, he warns.

"Good hygiene is vital. If a skin abscess is ruptured while clipping, any discharge should be cleaned up immediately and the skin treated with antiseptic."

Contaminated clipper blades should not be used until they have been cleaned thoroughly, and should be disinfected between flocks, as should any equipment.

"Any unusual swellings or discharges found on sheep while shearing should arouse suspicion – particularly if a number of sheep are infected. Isolate affected animals and contact your vet."