Lambs 'benefit from extra booster'

Rebecca TriggerThe West Australian

New research shows lambs need a booster shot of vaccine to ensure full protection against a certain strain of arthritis, a manufacturer claims.

Vaccine producers Zoetis make Eryvac, which is used to prevent erysipelas arthritis caused by bacteria in sheep.

The condition is marked by fever with affected joints becoming hot, swollen and painful.

About 20 per cent of lambs affected will sustain joint damage and have ongoing lameness.

Zoetis claims the majority of sheep producers in WA are already vaccinating at marking.

But the company claims new research shows that lambs also benefit from being dosed at weaning.

"The initial dose of Eryvac in newborn lambs acts as a primer for the immune system, however this only provides short-term protection," sheep health expert Bruce Farquharson said.

The second dose is later administered when a lamb's immune system is capable of providing longer-term protection, typically around the time of weaning, and should be followed up with boosters every 12 months."

Zoetis claims a typical WA farm can save between $5,000 in fine wool Merino flocks and $10,000 in prime lamb operations when using the new dosing regimen.

Erysipelas Arthritis *

Symptoms *: hot, swollen joints, stiffness, difficulty rising and walking.

Cause *: bacterium Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae. The bacterium enters through a wound or via the umbilicus in newborn lambs.

Treatment *: antibiotics

Prevention *: high hygiene standard at lamb marking and mulesing, vaccination

Source: pfizeranimalhealth.com.au

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