23 Dec 2014

Reminder about sheep measles

6:20 am on 23 December 2014

As the Christmas holiday break approaches, farmers have had a seasonal reminder to be vigilant about making sure family and friends bringing dogs on to the farm have had them treated for sheep measles before they arrive.

Sheep measles posed no risk to human health but could produce unsightly cysts in the meat of infected sheep and lambs, which could result in them being downgraded or rejected at processing plants.

Dan Lynch of disease control agencyOvis Management said farmers should keep untreated dogs off the farm, because if they were carrying sheep measles tapeworms, they could infect the sheep.

"Dogs, when they have a mature tapeworm inside them, that tapeworm can shed up to 250,000- 280,000 eggs a day on to pasture.

"Those eggs will survive on the pasture for four to six months and if you can imagine a slow moving plume of smoke drifting across a farm or across a number or properties, with eggs being spread on those farms.

"Lambs, sheep come along, eat those eggs, and the eggs hatch out and lodge in muscle tissue. The problem with this is that these cysts are difficult to find, they're deep seated in the meat."