What Is Sheep Measles?
Sheep measles is the common name given to lesions in sheep and goats caused by an “intermediate stage” of a tapeworm parasite. This parasite stage is also known as Cysticercus ovis. The “primary stage” of the parasite is a tapeworm (Taenia ovis) which infects the intestine of dogs.
Sheep measles is commonly seen as hard white cysts either on the surface or deep in muscle tissue of sheep or goats. The parasite relies on two hosts to complete its life cycle. Eggs produced by the tapeworm in dogs are passed to pasture from where they are ingested by sheep or goats. After ingestion, the eggs penetrate the intestinal tract, are moved around the body in the blood, shift out of the blood to muscle tissues and form cysts that are infective to dogs. Over a period of months, cysts are killed by the immune system of the sheep or goat and hard, fibrous or calcified lesions are left as defects in the carcass.
Sheep measles poses no risk to human health however it does cause blemishes in sheep meat which can result in downgrading or in extreme cases condemning of sheep or lamb carcasses.
- Freeze or cook all sheep meat before feeding to dogs
- Freeze meat at -10°C or colder for 10 days
- Cook by heating to core temp of 72°C or hotter
- Don’t feed scraps of meat to dogs
- Restrain dogs when not supervised
- Dog proof killing sheds
One of the most important control measures is regular monthly worming of all dogs on the property with a tape wormer. This also includes all dogs coming on to the property, no matter for what length of time.
We offer several types of worming programmes to farmers in the area, please ring the clinic if you would like to arrange this.