Scabby Mouth

Scabby Mouth is a viral disease affecting sheep and goats commonly affects the lips, mouth and surrounding skin, but can also affect the face, feet and the udder of nursing ewes. The virus causes sores to form, which then encrust before scabbing over and then falling off. The underlying skin heals without scarring. This cycle takes approximately 4-5 weeks. Lambs lose condition as they are reluctant to eat and it is too painful for ewes to feed suckling lambs. Those with feet lesions will be lame. These sores may become infected by opportunistic bacteria, causing further infection.


• Multiple animals may be affected, with the most common site for infection being on the lips, especially in the corners of the mouth.

• Scabby mouth scabs can also be found on the teats of ewes, on the skin around the coronet and around the bulbs of the heels.

• Infection begins with a clear sticky discharge which then hardens into a thick brown scab firmly attached to the skin beneath it.

• Provided the scab is not knocked or pulled off, it generally dries up and falls off in 2-3 weeks.


• Scabby mouth scabs are quite distinctive and a diagnosis can be made by examining infected sheep.

• Scabby mouth is transmissible to humans so precautions must be taken when handling sheep with Scabby mouth.

• If necessary a firm diagnosis can be made by submitting scab material to a laboratory for examination.


• Most cases recover with no treatment within 3 weeks.

• Precautions against flystrike should be taken.

• Sheep with scabs on the mouth should be given soft lush feed as they may be reluctant to eat dry coarse feed.


• Avoid vaccination of ewes with lambs at foot.

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