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Veterinary and medical aspects of abortion in Danish sheep

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Agerholm JS, Aalbæk B, Fog-Larsen AM, Boye M, Holm E, Jensen TK, Lindhardt T, Larsen LE, Buxton D. Veterinary and medical aspects of abortion in Danish sheep. APMIS. 2006;114:146–52.

The Danish sheep population totals around 144,000 animals, but little is known of the causes and prevalance of diseases. This study focuses on the causes of abortion in Danish sheep. During one breeding season, aborted foetuses and stillbirths with signs of intrauterine death or malformation were submitted for laboratory examination from a population of 3,758 breeding ewes. Samples from 24 incidents of abortion and 21 ewes delivering malformed lambs or lambs with ante partum decomposition were submitted. A specific aetiology was established in 66.7% and 14.3% of the cases, respectively. Bacterial pathogens were the most prevalent cause of abortion. Several of the abortifacients were zoonotic microorganisms, for example Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter fetus subsp. fetus, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Toxoplasma gondii. The identified microorganisms probably represent the most common causes of abortion in Danish sheep but occurrence in Denmark of other pathogens such as Coxiella burnetii and Chlamydophila abortus cannot be excluded. Due to the high prevalence of zoonotic microorganisms, precautions must be taken in handling abortions or assisting lambing, especially for pregnant women.
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Keywords: Abortion; sheep; zoonosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, 2: Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research, Copenhagen, Denmark, and 3: Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh, Scotland

Publication date: 2006-02-01

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