Ovine Mouth Pathology Survey
Note Number: AG1218
Jeff Cave, Wodonga
Updated: May 2007
It has long been suspected that a great variety of mouth pathology occurs in the Victorian sheep flock during “normal conditions”. Recently a study was conducted to establish a baseline picture of what mouth pathology could be expected during a routine inspection.
The Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in the United Kingdom (UK) during 2001 highlighted the difficulties in relying on visual examination of the mouths of sheep for FMD surveillance inspections. The UK experience was that there was a significant variety of normal mouth pathology in sheep that was not due to FMD. It is reasonable to expect that the same variation might apply in Victoria.
In general, farmers and veterinarians are not familiar with the normal range of oral lesions found in sheep. Until now, a study has not been carried out in Victoria to establish a picture of mouth pathology that could be expected during the routine inspection of sheep' mouths, in the absence of FMD. It is hoped that this survey will provide a useful tool to guide veterinarians and animal health technicians in this field.
DPI animal health staff inspected a number of flocks at a variety of locations throughout Victoria in each of the four seasons over a 12-month period.
Photographs of the more commonly seen lesions along with information relevant to the lesion’s likely cause were collected and collated.
The main outcome of the survey was a pictorial guide depicting the most commonly seen lesions along with the conditions with which they were associated. The lesion types seen included erosions, abrasions, ulcers, nodules, abscesses, staining, healing lesions, hyperplasia, granulomas, scabs, and poor dentition.
A sample of some of the lesions seen is shown below.
Multiple erosions on the lower gum of an 18-month-old merino wether on summer pasture on a property near Ballarat
Healing ulcer on the lower gum of a two-year-old merino ewe on spring pasture with drying barley grass on a property near Bairnsdale, East Gippsland. Five percent of sheep in a mob of 212 had similar lesions.
Two nodules on the lower lip of a four-year-old merino wether on spring pasture on a property near Ararat
Ulcer and abscess on the upper lip of a full-mouth merino wether on autumn pasture on a property near Ararat
Healing lesion on the upper lip of a full-mouth merino wether on spring pasture on a property near Yarck, North Eastern Victoria
It is hoped that similar surveys will be conducted in other areas of Australia and in other species to give a better baseline picture of mouth pathology in production animals in Australia.
This survey was a combination of work contributed by Dr Jeff Cave, Ms Fiona Dean, Mr Lachlan King, Dr Leanna Dries, Ms Leanne Jones, Mr Roger MacInnes, Mr Richard Keys and other DPI Animal Health and Welfare field staff. We also gratefully acknowledge many Victorian sheep producers for making their flocks available for inspection.
For further information contact your local DPI Animal Health and Welfare staff to view the DPI publication “Ovine Mouth Pathology in Victoria, Australia”.
The previous version of this Information Note was published in February 2006.
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