Johne’s disease, Paratuberculosis

This is a wide spread disease infecting many animals but not humans. It is a chronic disease transmitted through fecal material and colostrum milk. Animals are most likely infected young in life and don’t show symptoms until later in life, two years and older in cattle. There is very little transmission adult to adult.

There is no known treatment for the disease and vaccines are not approved in this country. There are various tests for the disease but the most meaningful is post mortem analysis. The various tests have value but are sometimes difficult to interpolate and in sheep I would not advise.

Apparently the sheep strains are different from cattle strains but this is not true in goats. Cattle always exhibit diarrhea in the final stages along with emaciation but appetite may remain normal. Water intake may increase. Sheep and Goats may or may not develop diarrhea but become emaciated and loss of wool or hair may occur.

When using cow colostrum for goats it should be pasteurized or gone thru a drying process before use. This isn’t as essential in sheep. Avoid fecal contamination of teats. Testing and herd interpretation may be necessary in Cattle and goats. Eradication in sheep can be resolved by early culling when symptoms of wasting develop. Elimination of off spring from culled animals is also helpful.

About Ask-a-Vet Sheep

Veterinary services, procedures, biologicals, and drugs mentioned in this publication represent the personal opinions and clinical observations of the contributing author. They are in no way intended to be interpreted as recommendations without the consent of the producer’s own practicing Veterinarian. We strongly urge that producers establish a patient-client-veterinarian relationship that allows extra-label use when there are no drugs approved for treatment or if approved drugs are not effective. This procedure allows veterinarians to go beyond label directions when “prudent use” is necessary. The limited availability of drugs and biologics in this country is a major factor in restricting the growth of the sheep industry and allowing producers to compete in the world market place.
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