Contagious Ecthyma (Sore Mouth, Orf)

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Contagious Ecthyma

Sore Mouth, Orf


  • Contagious ecthyma is a viral disease of sheep and goats. The virus is very hardy and can live for extended periods away from the host. Kids pick up the disease from surroundings and may spread it to their mother’s udder by nursing. Recovery from the disease gives an immunity for at least 1 year.


  • Symptoms are thick, scabby sores that occur on the lips and gums and may be seen on udders or other areas that have little hair. When the lesions appear on udders, they are painful and the doe will not allow the kids to nurse. Mastitis often will develop. Kids may show lesions on rear legs.


  • There is little transfer of immunity from the doe to the kid by the colostrum. Very young, severely affected kids may die.


  • Treatment is of little value. Softening ointments may help.
  • Always make sure affected goats are eating and drinking.
  • Soft, tasty feeds are helpful.
  • A vaccine is available and is very effective.
  • Kids should be vaccinated in a hair-free area within 1 month of birth.


  • Adults need not be vaccinated again after the disease is in the herd and all young have been vaccinated. Continual exposure to the disease will keep the adults immune or resistant to sore mouth.


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