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.
Urban Dog Owners
Sheep Measles occurs when dogs have access to raw or untreated sheep or goat meat.
If taking a dog near sheep pasture the best method to ensure it is free of Sheep Measles to treat with praziquantel drugs within one month or at least 48 hours prior to going onto farm land.
Hunters, Fishers, Trampers
Many people going hunting and fishing or walking on private land take dogs with them. Some common rules apply to prevent the spread of Sheep Measles by these dogs:
- If going on private land ask permission from land owner.
- Dose all dogs with a praziquantel drug at least 48 hours or within one month prior to going.
- Carry some evidence of treatment such as a treatment certificate or receipt from vet. Any decision to allow entry to a dog rests with the landowner.
- Carry enough plastic bags to pick up and remove dog faeces should your dog defecate.
If you are going on public land near sheep pasture please apply the same policies to prevent the spread of sheep measles.
If you are in doubt or have questions contact Ovis Management on 0800 222 011