Important information about Campylobacter

Campylobacter is responsible for large scale abortions, with losses of up to 30% reported. Such large scale abortion storms are extremely devastating.

Evidence suggests subclinical infections also play a role in reduced lamb survival. Numerous studies have shown an association between vaccination and increased lambing percentage. Even when no abortions have been seen, vaccination has been observed to increase lambing percentage by an average of 9%.

Most Campylobacter abortions in sheep are caused by the species Campylobacter fetus fetus. Testing indicates that around 88% of flocks, and 50% of individual ewes, have been exposed to C. fetus fetus during their lifetime. A second species, Campylobacter jejuni can also cause abortion. Abortions caused by C. jejuni can be significant, but are sporadic. Approximately 1 in 7 Campylobacter abortions are caused by C. jejuni.

Infections are spread to other ewes by direct contact with aborted fetuses, membranes or vaginal discharges. These discharges occur for up to 6 weeks following abortion. Sheep can also be indirectly infected by eating pasture or drinking water contaminated with bacteria. The bacteria can survive in soil, water, pasture and hay for up to three weeks - often longer in winter.

Campylobacter are present on most, if not all, farms. It is therefore likely to be present on your farm, even though it may not have been diagnosed or you have not seen abortions. Abortion storms are obvious. However, in many cases the signs are not so clear cut. Losses are often scattered, ongoing and not readily detected. Either way, the impact on your lamb productivity will be significant.

Greater than expected differences between scanning and tailing percentages can be an indication of Campylobacter infection, even if there is no obvious history of the disease on your farm.

Campyvax4 gives your ewes protection against all C. fetus fetus strains and is the only vaccine that includes C. jejuni. Vaccination with Campyvax4 will protect against Campylobacter abortion storms, and any unseen Campylobacter losses between scanning and tailing.

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