by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy
This isn’t some thing you get at the zoo, but close. This is a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans. Top on the list would be Toxoplasmosis along with Campylobacter, Chlamydia and Salmonella: all causes of abortion. I will make it simple. Pregnant women and those that could be expecting shouldn’t be in the lambing barn working with the sheep.
The second concern is sore mouth, which is also easily transmitted to humans. Most shepherds have contacted at one time or another and it isn’t a big deal unless you get it on a bad location, say the end of your nose. I have had it twice that I know of. It is endemic in the general sheep population and I pretty much choose to ignore it. Check out the sore mouth article
for further information.
There are other diseases, like Anthrax and Rabies, that are important but infrequent to say the least. If you have had a skunk in the barn you should think twice about putting bare hands in the mouth of a ewe that is acting strange.