You are here:

ARCHIVE: A - Z index of diseases

This page gives a brief description of a number of diseases of animals. However it is important to remember that if you have any concerns about the health of animals in your care, you should first consult your own veterinary surgeon.

Some of the disease descriptions have links to more detailed information, which may be in the form of factsheets or disease profiles produced by Defra or to other parts of the Defra website. Information is also available from organisations such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Fisheries Research Services (FRS) and the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC). Some of the diseases can affect people and these may have links to the Department of Health or other medical sites.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

African Horse Sickness

African Horse Sickness is a highly fatal disease that affects horses, mules and donkeys. It is caused by an orbivirus. Dogs have been known to be infected by eating infected horsemeat. It has never occurred in the UK, but is found in Southern Africa. An outbreak occurred in Spain relatively recently, which was associated with the import of infected zebras from Africa. The disease is carried and spread by insects with the speed of the spread dependant on weather and wind conditions. Affected horses have a fever with laboured breathing, coughing and discharge from the nostrils. A less serious form can occur causing fever and swelling of the face. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

African Swine Fever

African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious disease of pigs caused by a virus (asf virus). Affected pigs have a very high temperature and lose their appetite. Other signs such as discolouration of the skin, vomiting and diarrhoea may develop as the disease progresses. A high number of sick pigs will die. ASF has never been seen in the UK. However the disease is very similar in appearance to Classical Swine Fever and laboratory testing is necessary to distinguish them. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Anthrax

A bacterium known as Bacillus anthracis causes anthrax. The bacterium is present in the UK and can survive as a spore for long periods in the soil, although disease in animals is rare. All species of animals can be affected (including people), with cattle as the farm animals most frequently affected. In cattle and sheep the period of illness is often so short that animals may be found dead. When infected, pigs and horses will also usually die, though less quickly. However some animals may recover completely, having shown few signs of disease. In man, infection may cause a boil-like lesion on the skin that can be treated with antibiotics. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease, particularly sudden unexplained deaths, must be notified to the Government.

Aujeszky's Disease

Aujeszky’s Disease is a disease mainly of pigs although it can affect some other species, but not horses or people. It is caused by a herpesvirus and was last recorded in GB in 1989, although much more recently in Northern Ireland. It is present in many other countries. The signs seen in diseased pigs vary depending on the age of the pigs involved. They include both nervous and respiratory system problems with abortions and stillbirths in pregnant females. Numbers of deaths are higher in younger pigs. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Avian Chlamydiosis

See Psittacosis

Avian Influenza (Bird flu)

Avian influenza is a highly contagious disease affecting many species of birds, including commercial, wild and pet birds. It may also pose a threat to people and other animals in certain circumstances. It is caused by a Type A influenza virus. There are two types of the virus. One type ( high pathogenicity avian influenza-HPAI) can cause severe disease and the other (low pathogenicity avian influenza-LPAI) generally causes only mild disease or no disease at all. There is concern that the virus may change (or mutate) to cause the severe disease in people, birds and other animals. Influenza A viruses occur worldwide and serious outbreaks of disease have been reported in many countries. The last outbreak of avian influenza in the UK was in June 2008. Some birds, especially waterfowl, can be infected without showing any signs of disease. Other affected birds may die suddenly or show a range of clinical signs including a drop in egg production, swollen heads, dullness and a loss of appetite. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Top

Babesiosis

Babesiosis (or Redwater) is a disease of cattle and other mammals, caused by the protozoan parasites Babesia bovis, B. bigemina, B.divergens and others. The protozoan develops inside the red blood cells of affected animals. Different species of the organism affect different animals. The organism is transmitted between animals by ticks but can also be spread by contaminated instruments or needles. Babesiosis occurs worldwide and bovine redwater is constantly present in some areas of the UK. In Europe, particularly in Southern France, the infection occurs in dogs and there is a possibility that dogs from the UK, on holiday with their owners in Europe, may return home with the infection. Signs of disease may include a fever, loss of appetite, the passage of red / brown urine , anaemia and weakness. Recovered animals are immune to reinfection by the same species of organism. However the parasite may persist in the blood for some years causing the disease to reappear in the same animal.

Bacterial Kidney Disease (BKD)

BKD can affect both wild and farmed salmonids. It is present in various parts of the world including North America, Europe, Chile and Japan and outbreaks continue to occur occasionally within the UK on rainbow trout and Atlantic salmon farms. It is caused by the bacterium Renibacterium salmonarium and infection can result in the death of many fish, particularly in the spring and autumn with changing water temperatures. Transmission of the disease can occur through the eggs and sperm of fish, or by direct contact with infected fish or water. Clinical signs include a swollen abdomen, protruding eyes and bleeding at the base of the gills. Internal observations include a swollen kidney which may appear grey in colour with white nodular patches, clear or cloudy ascetic fluid, an enlarged spleen and a pale coloured liver. As BKD is a notifiable disease, then any suspicion must be notified to the Government.

Bird flu

See Avian influenza.

Blackhead (Histomoniasis) in Turkeys

Blackhead is a disease that affects the lower digestive tract of turkeys. It is caused by a parasite called Histomonas meleagridis. The organism is also found in chickens and gamebirds often without causing severe disease. It is not transmissible to humans. In turkeys the signs of disease are not very specific but may include loss of appetite, a stilted gait when walking and darkening of the skin on the head. Affected birds may die. The disease is present in GB and owners of birds must use good hygiene measures to prevent infection.

Blackleg (Clostridial myositis)

Blackleg is a disease of cattle and sheep, caused by a bacterium called Clostridium chauvoei. The disease occurs worldwide. The bacterium occurs naturally in the gut and can also remain alive in the soil for some years. Affected animals, often young well grown beef cattle, generally pick up the organism from contaminated pasture. Clinical signs appear suddenly with severe lameness and dullness. Large, crackly swellings develop in affected areas such as the rump, back, shoulder and chest. Death occurs within 1 or 2 days. Some animals may be found dead without showing any previous signs of illness.

Blood sweating disease

Blood sweating disease (or idiopathic haemorrhagic diathesis)  is a recently identified disease which has affected calves between 0-4 weeks of age. The cause of the disease is not yet known but clinical signs in calves include bleeding from apparently intact skin and from injection and ear tagging sites, together with signs of bleeding from the visible mucous membranes, nose and rectum. Farmers who observe these symptoms in their herd should consult their vet in the first instance. Cases have been reported in a number of countries including England, Scotland, Germany and Holland. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the disease is infectious or contagious and research is being carried out to identify potential factors which might cause the disease.

Bluetongue

Bluetongue is a disease of ruminants that is spread between animals by a biting midge. It is caused by an orbivirus. Sheep are most severely affected by the disease. Infected cattle do not show signs of the disease but are carriers of the virus and are important in its spread. Bluetongue was confirmed for the first time in the UK in 2007. Signs of the disease include fever, breathlessness, and swelling and redness of the mouth, nose and eyelids (this may include the blue discolouration of the tongue after which the disease is named). Sheep may die and those surviving will lose condition. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Botulism

Botulism is a disease caused by ingestion of the toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are several different types of toxin. The bacteria are widespread and their toxins can affect most animals and birds, including people. It is commonly found in the gut of poultry and wild birds, and in the litter in poultry houses. Problems with intoxications are sporadic in wild birds, but can cause paralysis with high numbers of birds dying. Intoxications in cattle have been associated with the grazing of land on which poultry litter has been spread.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)

BSE is a fatal brain disease of cattle. The infectious agent is thought to be a protein called a prion. It is believed that in the past animals became infected by eating animal feed containing the infectious agent. Signs of the disease are not usually seen until the cow is at least 4 or 5 years old. They tend to develop slowly and may include a strange high stepping gait, trembling, nervousness or aggression and loss of weight. The disease in people, Variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (vCJD), may be linked with eating meat products from BSE infected animals. BSE was first diagnosed in the UK in 1986 and has since appeared in many other countries including Europe, North America and Japan. Good progress is being made towards its eradication in the UK. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Bovine Tuberculosis

See Tuberculosis (Bovine TB)

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD)

BVD is a disease of cattle caused by a pestivirus. The virus occurs as two major strains, Type I and Type II. In the UK, Type I is widespread. However Type II is present in North America and some parts of Europe and has been recently identified in the UK. Infection with BVD virus may cause no clinical signs. However the immune system may be damaged leaving the animal temporarily susceptible to other infections. Infection in pregnant animals may cause abortion or the birth of calves which subsequently fail to thrive or even calves which look normal but which are themselves infected with the virus. These calves may develop a disease called ‘mucosal disease’ later in life. This may cause erosions in the mouth and diarrhoea and is usually fatal. If however they survive to adulthood, they themselves can produce further infected calves thus perpetuating the cycle.

Brucellosis (Brucella abortus)

Brucellosis of cattle is caused by infection with the bacterium Brucella abortus. The bacterium can also infect people. The disease is present in many countries. It was eradicated from GB some years ago. However recent cases of the disease have been recorded in this country, introduced by movement of infected cattle from countries where the disease is present. These outbreaks were quickly stamped out and GB still maintains its brucellosis-free status. The disease causes abortion or early calving of recently infected animals with large amounts of infectious material produced. The bacterium is also excreted in the milk and people have been infected by drinking untreated milk as well as by contact with infected animals. The bacterium is destroyed when milk is pasteurised. Infected breeding bulls can transmit the organism in the semen. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Brucellosis (Brucella melitensis)

Brucellosis caused by the bacterium Brucella melitensis can affect most species of domestic animals, but sheep and goats are the most susceptible. People can also be infected. The disease is present in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries and parts of Africa, India and Central and South America. However the UK and several European countries are free of the disease. The disease may cause a large number of abortions in a flock when it first appears. Continued infection may produce few clinical signs. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Top

Campylobacter

Campylobacter is the name of a group of bacteria that can infect a wide variety of animals and birds, including man. It occurs worldwide and causes several different clinical signs in animals, depending on the species of Campylobacter involved. In sheep and cattle it may be a cause of abortion and infertility. More rarely it may cause diarrhoea, which may be severe in very young animals. However many animals may excrete other types of campylobacter in their faeces while showing no clinical signs at all. These types of the bacteria ( Campylobacter coli and Campylobacter jejuni) are the ones which are most commonly found in people with infectious diarrhoeal illness. The route of transmission of campylobacter infection to man often remains unclear but poultry meat may be important as a source of infection. The organism is destroyed by cooking.

Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)

See Maedi-Visna

Carp Pox

Carp pox disease, or cyprinid herpesvirus (CHV-1), is caused by a herpesvirus (Herpesvirus cyprini) and has a wide geographic distribution and effecting common carp and koi. CHV typically causes smooth raised growths ("wart-like masses") on skin and fins of older fish, but it may be associated with high mortality in fish less than two months of age (Hedrick et al., 2000). Water temperatures above 20°C help reduce the skin and fin growths on older fish, but do not eliminate the virus from the fish. In mature fish, CHV-1 is typically a non-lethal, self-limiting disease. Carp Pox is not a notifiable disease.

Caseous lymphadenitis (CLA)

CLA is a disease mostly occurring in sheep and goats, but which can also affect other animals and, rarely, people. It is found worldwide. It is caused by a bacterium called Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis and it can produce severe problems in regions with large sheep and goat populations. Clinical signs include the development of abscesses, mainly in the region of the head, shoulder and neck. Affected animals may show no other clinical signs. However the abscesses may also form inside the body, producing loss of weight and various other signs depending on the location of the lesions. The number of animals affected in a flock increases steadily, with as many as 40% of animals developing superficial abscesses. Although not a notifiable disease in GB, CLA is notifiable in Northern Ireland.

Classical Swine Fever

Classical swine fever (CSF) is a very contagious disease of pigs. It is caused by a pestivirus.It was eradicated from GB in 1966. However since then there have been several outbreaks of the disease which were controlled by the slaughter of many pigs. The initial source of CSF virus appears to be from pigs eating infected pork or pork products derived from imports. Infected pigs may show little evidence of disease or can develop a fever and lose their appetite. Other possible signs include discolouration of the skin, diarrhoea, constipation, coughing and nervous signs. A large number of pigs may die. The disease is very similar in appearance to African swine fever. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government. This is a different disease to Swine influenza.

Contagious agalactia

Contagious agalactia occurs in sheep and goats and is present in several Mediterranean countries and the Middle East. It is not present in the UK. It is caused by an bacterium called Mycoplasma agalactiae. Affected animals may abort or develop inflammation of the udder after lambing, causing a decrease in milk yield. The eyes and joints may also be affected. Many animals in a flock may be affected but only a small number may die. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Contagious Bovine pleuro pneumonia

Contagious bovine pleuro pneumonia (CBPP) is a contagious disease affecting the lungs of cattle. It is caused by a bacterium called Mycoplasma mycoides. The disease was eradicated from the UK in 1898 and has not occurred here since then, and Europe is also officially CBPP free. However it is still widespread in Africa and is present in many other parts of the world. The main signs of the disease are fever and coughing with signs of chest pain. Some affected animals may lose a lot of weight and die. Others may appear to recover but continue to spread the disease to other animals in the herd. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia

CCPP is an OIE B list disease caused by Mycoplasma capricolum subsp. capripneumoniae (Mccp). Unlike other mycoplasmas like M. mycoides LC/capri and M. capricolum which cause sporadic problems in Europe including pneumonias and contagious agalactia, Mccp has been absent from Europe for over 80 years but can cause devastating losses particularly in naive goat herds as was seen in Eritrea in the mid 1990s when mortality and morbidity rates exceeded 80% and 100% respectively. CCPP is characterised by its contagiousness, pulmonary lesions, abundant pleural fluid and fibrin. The exact whereabouts of CCPP worldwide is not known because few laboratories are able to culture and identify this remarkably fastidious organism. It has recently been detected in the Thace (European) region of Turkey several kilometres from the Greek Border but is endemic in Asian Turkey and parts of North Africa.

Contagious Epididymitis (Brucella ovis)

Contagious epididymitis is a disease of male sheep. It is caused by a bacterium called Brucella ovis. The disease has never been recorded in the UK, but has been seen in Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America and parts of Southern Europe. It is not known to affect people. The disease causes fever and dullness in rams and affects semen quality and fertility. It can produce high economic losses in infected flocks. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Contagious Equine Metritis

Contagious equine metritis (CEM) is a reproductive disease of horses that is transmitted both at mating and indirectly, for example, through contaminated instruments and the hands of staff. It can be caused by three different species of bacteria, Taylorella equigenitalis (the CEM Organism, or the CEMO), Klebsiella pneumoniae or Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The CEMO was first reported in the UK in 1977 and periodic outbreaks continue to occur. CEMO is present in other European countries, Morocco and Japan. Infected mares may have a discharge from the vagina and become temporarily infertile. Both mares and stallions can carry the organism without showing any signs. When CEM is suspected in a mare it is good practice for the veterinary surgeon to take a swab. If the CEMO is isolated from the swab then it must be notified to the Government.

Cryptosporidiosis

Cryptosporidiosis is caused by a very small parasitic organism called Cryptosporidium parvum. The infection occurs worldwide and is most common in young ruminants, particularly in those not consuming sufficient colostrum. In young animals, particularly calves, it may produce a severe watery diarrhoea and weight loss. However many infected animals may show no clinical signs at all, although still continuing to excrete the organism in their faeces. People can be infected by cryptosporidia, either by ingestion of food contaminated with infected faeces or by drinking water contaminated with the organism. The disease may cause severe symptoms in the very young or those whose immune systems are weakened.

Top

Dirofilariasis (Heartworm Disease)

Infection by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis may result in heartworm disease. The adult worms live in the heart and blood vessels. Dogs are most commonly affected, but the worms can also infect cats and ferrets. The intermediate stage of the worm, called the larva, is transmitted between animals by mosquitoes in hot countries including Spain and France. Several cases are diagnosed in the UK each year in animals that have been infected abroad. At present the temperatures in the UK do not favour the development of the larvae in the mosquitoes. However any increases in the average summer temperature in the future could change this situation. Clinical signs vary but may include coughing, breathlessness and intolerance to exercise and can lead to death.

Dourine

Dourine is a contagious disease of horses transmitted only at mating. It is caused by an organism called Trypanosoma equiperdum. It has never occurred in the UK, but is present in several other countries including Africa, Asia, parts of Europe and South America. The disease may be severe with many horses dying. However a milder form of the disease also occurs, especially in countries where it has been present for a long time. Both stallions and mares may have swelling and discharge from the sexual organs. Nervous signs and skin lesions have also been seen. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Top

E coli

See Verocytotoxin Escherichia coli

Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is caused by a bacterium called rickettsia that can infect the blood cells of several species including dogs, horses and people. It is transmitted by ticks. The disease occurs in North Africa and in several European countries. It has been diagnosed in the UK in animals that have picked up the infection when abroad. Clinical signs vary but include fever, loss of appetite , anaemia, stiffness and reluctance to move. Prolonged bleeding may be seen.

Enteric Redmouth (ERM)

ERM is an economically important disease principally affecting young farmed rainbow trout and is caused by the bacterium Yersinia ruckeri. Outbreaks have been confirmed in North America, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe. All wild and farmed salmonids are susceptible. Within the UK the disease is widespread but successfully controlled through vaccination, occasional outbreaks can occur resulting in the requirement for antibiotic treatment. A wide range of gross disease signs have been reported, these include a darkening of the skin, congestion of the oral area with ulceration and haemorrhage and the presence of cutaneous petechiae. Haemorrhage at the tips of the gill filaments may be evident, exophthalmia with tissue odema are common findings. As the name suggests a reddening of the mouth and jaw area can occur but usually during the later stages of a chronic infection. Generally, outbreaks of ERM cause a sustained low level mortality at temperatures over 10oC this may significantly increase if stress is a factor in the affected population. ERM is a notifiable disease but is not controlled within the UK.

Enzootic Abortion of Ewes (EAE)

EAE is a disease of sheep caused by an organism called Chlamydophila abortus, formerly called Chlamydia psittaci. The disease is also known as Ovine Chlamydiosis. It is present in most sheep producing countries in the world including GB. The organism can also affect humans. It causes abortion and the birth of weak and sickly lambs that may die soon afterwards. Infected ewes do not normally show any clinical signs prior to abortion. The disease is transmitted to other ewes when they sniff infected fluids or aborted lambs. The organism can also be carried on boots and clothing, and spread by foxes and gulls. An EAE accreditation scheme is run by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC).

Enzootic Bovine Leukosis (EBL)

EBL is a contagious disease in cattle. It is caused by a retrovirus. It can be passed from mother to calf and also between cattle. The disease was first confirmed in GB in 1978 and eradicated in 1996. It is not transmissible to humans. Clinical signs are usually apparent in cattle aged between 4 and 8 years and rarely seen in animals younger than 2 years old. Affected animals lose their appetite and condition, are dull, weak and anaemic. Many tumours form in the organs of the body and some may be visible or felt lying under the skin. Affected animals will eventually die. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Epizootic Haematopoietic Necrosis (EHN)

Epizootic haematopoietic necrosis (EHN) is a systemic iridovirus (Ranavirus) infection of redfin perch (Percafluviatilis), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), sheatfish (Silurus glanis) and catfish (Ictalurus melas). The disease is caused by three similar viruses: epizootic haematopoietic necrosis virus (EHNV), European sheatfish virus (ESV) and European catfish virus (ECV). The geographical range of EHNV is currently restricted to Australia, whereas the ECV and ESV agents have only been detected among fish within Europe. Although inducing similar diseases in their respective hosts, EHNV, ECV and ESV are distinct agents distinguished by molecular techniques. EHN infection in redfin perch is generally lethal whilst rainbow trout are relatively resistant but a small proportion of individuals can become infected. Infections with ESV and ECV can induce high morbidity and mortality in their catfish hosts. The disease caused by all three iridoviruses, is characterised by mortalities due to necrosis in the liver, spleen, haematopoietic tissue of the kidney and other tissues. Within rainbow trout, infection occurs naturally at water temperatures from 11 to 17°C and experimentally from 8 to 21°C. Disease in redfin perch does not occur at temperatures below 12°C. EHN is not a notifiable disease.

Epizootic Haemorrhagic Disease of Deer

Epizootic haemorrhagic disease of deer is caused by an orbivirus, which is similar to the virus that causes bluetongue. The clinical signs of the disease are also similar to those of bluetongue in sheep. The disease has never occurred in the UK. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Epizootic Lymphangitis

Epizootic lymphangitis is a disease of horses and mules. It is caused by a fungus called Histoplasma farciminosum. The disease is present in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and India. It has not occurred in the UK since 1906. The fungus may be spread directly or indirectly by flies, or by the use of contaminated grooming equipment or tack. The disease causes ulcers and skin lesions. Affected animals may eventually die. The disease can be confused with Glanders. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Equine Infectious Anaemia

Equine Infectious Anaemia or ‘swamp fever’ is a disease of horses, mules and donkeys. It is caused by a lentivirus and last occurred in Great Britain in January 2010. It is still present in many parts of the world. Affected animals develop a fever, become anaemic, lose weight and may die. Recovered animals can become carriers and infect others. The virus is spread between animals by biting insects that typically live in low-lying swampy areas. If you suspect this disease you must immediately notify you local Animal Health office.

Equine Influenza

Equine influenza is a disease of horses caused by one of the influenza viruses; Influenza A. The virus occurs worldwide. Two different subtypes of the virus can cause the disease. Affected horses may have mild signs such as a runny nose and coughing. Some animals are more severely affected, with a high temperature, dullness, reluctance to eat and a hacking cough. They may go on to develop bacterial infections. The disease spreads very quickly and easily to other horses via infected droplets from the nose and coughs, and by infected rugs and brushes. The disease can cause severe problems in susceptible groups of horses. The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has developed a surveillance network for equine influenza.

Equine Viral Arteritis

Equine viral arteritis is a disease of horses. The equine arteritis virus has been reported throughout the world (including the UK) and is present in mainland Europe. The most recent confirmed case in the UK was in August 2010. Infection can spread between horses at mating, by artificial insemination with contaminated semen, by contact with aborted foetuses, or by direct contact from droplets from the respiratory tract, i.e. through coughing and snorting. The disease may cause abortion or pregnancy failure. Recovered stallions may continue to infect mares while showing no signs of the disease themselves. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Equine Viral Encephalomyelitis

EVE is one of the equine encephalitides and it causes encephalitis (a serious nervous disease), which can be fatal. It is a viral disease of horses. There are a number of different types of EVE viruses. The same viruses can also affect people, as well as poultry and wild birds. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and/or biting flies. It has never occurred in the UK, but has been seen in North and South America. It is present in Central America and has spread north as far as Texas. The severity of the disease depends on the type of virus involved but all will cause nervous signs. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Top

Fascioliasis

Fascioliasis is a disease of sheep, cattle and occasionally goats, caused by a parasite called Fasciola hepatica, a liver fluke. It burrows through the liver of infected animals for several weeks and passes into the bile ducts. Fluke eggs are passed out in the faeces. The liver fluke must spend a period of its life cycle passing through a small mud snail called Lymnaea truncatula before it infects the animal. The severity of disease varies in different years depending on the climatic conditions. The clinical signs of disease can be very severe if the number of flukes present is high. Sheep may die suddenly. Other signs may be loss of condition, anaemia, presence of fluid under the jaw and lower productivity. The disease is widespread in the UK, particularly in areas that support a large snail population.

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

FMD is a disease that affects all cloven-footed animals, such as cattle, sheep, pigs and deer. It is caused by a picornavirus and spreads very quickly if not controlled. It is present in many countries of the world and outbreaks also periodically occur in disease-free areas. After being free of the disease for many years, this country had an outbreak in 2001, resulting in the slaughter of many animals and an outbreak in 2007. The disease causes fever followed by the development of blisters mainly in the mouth and on the feet. In pigs the clinical signs are identical to those of Swine Vesicular Disease (SVD). Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Fowl Cholera

Fowl cholera is a contagious disease of birds. It is caused by a bacterium called Pasteurella multocida and it occurs worldwide. The disease can kill many birds when it first enters a susceptible flock. Recovered birds may become carriers of the bacterium and continue to contaminate the environment. Older chickens may be more severely affected than young ones and turkeys tend to be more susceptible to infection than chickens. Clinical signs present may include loss of appetite, dullness, diarrhoea and breathlessness. Birds infected for a longer period may have swollen joints.

Furunculosis

Furunculosis is a disease of salmonids caused by the bacterium Aeromonas salmonicida. It can also occur in other fresh water and marine fish and it is widespread in Great Britain, Europe and many other parts of the world. It can affect all ages and stages of fish, with some fish showing no clinical signs and others developing more chronic symptoms including large swellings in the musculature and bleeding at the fin bases. The disease is transmitted by contact with infected fish or contaminated water. Outbreaks of furunculosis within farmed Atlantic salmon are rare, as the disease is successfully controlled by vaccination. Furunculosis is a notifiable disease within Atlantic salmon, but is no longer controlled within the UK.

Top

Glanders and Farcy

Glanders is a disease of horses, mules and donkeys. Dogs and cats can also be infected. It is caused by a bacterium called Burkholderia mallei. It was finally eradicated from the UK in 1928 but is still present in other parts of the world. It can affect people who may be infected via wounds or by inhalation following contact with diseased horses and can cause death if untreated. In horses the disease cause nodules to form in the lungs and other internal organs (‘glanders’) or on the surface of the legs and body (‘farcy’). Horses may die or can recover and become carriers possibly infecting others. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Goat Pox

Goat pox is a contagious disease of goats caused by a pox virus. It has never occurred in the UK but is present in North Africa, Asia and India. The same virus probably causes sheep pox. Clinical signs include fever followed by the appearance of skin lesions. These develop into blisters then scabs. A high proportion of infected young animals may die. The virus is spread by the respiratory route and the virus can remain infective in the scabs for many months. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government. Note that the skin condition commonly seen in goats in the UK, which is colloquially known in the goat farming community as goat pox, is caused by Staphylococcus aureus and is not a notifiable disease and is unrelated to goat pox virus.

Gyrodactylosis (caused by Gyrodactylus salaris)

Gyrodactylus are small, leech-like parasites and over 400 species have been described. Gyrodactylus salaris causes the disease Gyrodactylosis within some Atlantic salmon populations. Other salmonid and freshwater fish species are known to harbour and transmit the pathogen, but do not show the typical signs of disease. Clinical signs of infestation within Atlantic salmon include increased flashing, grey colouration of fish within the water column and white coloured eroded fins. Secondary fungal and bacterial infections may also be associated with infestation from G. salaris. The parasite has been identified in fresh water Atlantic salmon stocks in Norway, Western Sweden, Northern Finland and Northern Russia, along with rainbow trout stocks in Denmark, Germany and Italy. The status of many European countries is unknown. The parasite has never been found in British waters. The greatest risk of introducing the parasite is through the movement of live infected fish. There may also be risks associated with the movement of equipment which has been in contact with infected fish and which has not been treated or disinfected properly, for example via fishing tackle. The parasite attaches itself to the skin of the fish, causing great irritation, and wounds may be produced on the body. As G. salaris is a notifiable disease, then any suspicion must be notified to the Government.

Top

Hendra

Hendra is a disease of horses that has only been identified in Australia in 1994. The hendra virus (HeV) is found in fruit bats. The virus can also affect dogs and cats, and has caused deaths in people. It does not occur in the UK. The disease in horses was extremely severe and many affected animals died.Clinical signs included a very high temperature, swelling of the face, breathing difficulties and a discharge from the nose. Some affected horses developed nervous signs.

Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is a virus that is carried by pigs and possibly by some other wild and domestic mammals. It does not appear to cause any illness in these animals. Serological evidence indicates that the virus has been present in pigs in the UK since at least 1986. The virus can also infect humans and cause inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). In most affected people it produces a mild disease with recovery without treatment in 3 – 4 weeks. However, in rare cases it can be fatal particularly in pregnant women or people with a damaged immune system. It is not a common cause of hepatitis in the UK but in many developing regions of Africa, SE Asia, the Indian subcontinent and central America, it is the most common form of acute hepatitis. Infection in people in the UK is generally associated with travel to these regions. However some evidence suggests that pigs might be a source of infection in people that acquire their infection in the UK. There could also be a source of infection that is common to both pigs and humans.

Top

Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR)/Infectious pustular vulvovaginitis (IPV)

IBR is a disease of cattle. It is caused by a herpes virus that is widespread throughout the UK and other cattle producing countries. However it has been eradicated from several Scandinavian countries and Switzerland. Clinical signs of disease may not always be present. There is therefore a risk of infected carrier animals introducing the infection to other animals, although a blood test is able to detect potential carriers. Clinical signs may include a fever, coughing and a discharge from the nose. Severe cases may develop pneumonia, which can be fatal. Another form of the disease (IPV) may cause abortion and fertility problems. The virus is spread through the air and is a particular problem where cattle are housed closely together. It can also be transmitted through the semen at mating.

Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis (IHN)

IHN is a contagious disease caused by a rhabdovirus, all salmonid species are susceptible. Within Europe, it has been recorded in France, Belgium, Italy and Germany. In addition, IHN has also been reported in North America and Japan. The disease or the presence of the virus has never been found in British waters. Young fish are very susceptible to infection and it is often lethal. Surviving fish may become carriers of the virus and pose a threat to other stocks. The most important environmental factor affecting IHN is water temperature. Clinical disease tends to occur between 8oC and 15oC. Clinical signs include swelling of the abdomen, protruding eyes, body darkening and bleeding at the fin bases and anus. Fish may become lethargic with occasional bouts of frenzied activity. The disease is transmitted by contact with infected fish and contaminated water. Surface contamination of eggs can also occur. As IHN is a notifiable disease, then any suspicion must be notified to the Government.

Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN)

IPN is an infectious viral disease that affects many different species of fish. The virus responsible is a birnavirus and has also been found in shellfish. The disease is present in most salmon farming areas in North and South America, Europe and Asia. It is also widespread in trout and marine salmon farms in Great Britain. All ages of fish, in both fresh and seawater, can become infected with the virus. In Atlantic salmon, clinical IPN is mainly associated with mortality in young fry and in post-smolts 6-8 weeks following transfer to sea water. Clinical signs include a reduced appetite, lethargy and abnormal swimming behaviour. The virus is very robust and can be transmitted in both fresh and salt water, on equipment and in the gut of birds and mammals. It may also be passed from parent to progeny via the eggs and gametes of fish. Fish which become infected may act as carriers for a long period of time and pose a risk of pathogen and disease transmission to other fish stocks. IPN is a notifiable disease, but is no longer controlled within the UK.

Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA)

ISA is a disease of Atlantic salmon caused by an orthomyxo-like virus. The virus has been found in Canada, the USA, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Ireland and Scotland. The majority of cases occur in farmed fish in sea water and the disease can affect all ages of fish. Clinical signs include severe anaemia, a swollen abdomen due to the presence of fluid, a dark coloured liver and an enlarged dark spleen, along with haemorrhaging of the internal organs. The numbers of affected fish that die can be very high. The virus can be transmitted via contaminated water and also by the movement of infected fish, which, while showing no clinical signs, act as carriers of the virus. There are possible vertical transmission links but this has not, at present, been experimentally proven. The virus can survive on transport vehicles and equipment, which may be another source of infection. As ISA is a notifiable disease, then any suspicion must be notified to the Government.

Top

Johne's disease

Johne’s disease (or paratuberculosis) is a disease of adult cattle, sheep and goats caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (commonly known as Map). Wildlife, including deer and rabbits, may also be affected. The disease is found in cattle throughout GB and many other countries and affects animal health and welfare and farm level profitability. In cattle, clinical signs of the disease do not usually appear before two years of age. Affected animals may have diarrhoea, gradually lose weight and eventually die. Sheep and goats generally lose weight with no other clinical signs. Infection is usually picked up at an early age, from the faeces or milk of an infected dam, or from other infected adults in the birth and early rearing environment. Congenital infection (i.e. before birth) can also occur. Although not a notifiable disease in GB, Johne’s disease is notifiable in Northern Ireland.

Top

Koi Herpes Virus (KHV)

KHV is a highly contagious viral disease which may cause morbidity and mortality within common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and koi carp. Other related cyprinid species such as the common goldfish and grass carp seem to be unaffected. KHV is currently classified as a DNA-virus belonging to the virus family Herpesviridae. Fish which have recovered from infection or been exposed to the pathogen are thought to act as potential carriers of the virus. External signs of KHV may include gill mottling with red and white patches, bleeding gills, sunken eyes, pale patches or blisters on the skin. Behaviorally, affected fish often remain near the surface, swim lethargically, and may exhibit respiratory distress and uncoordinated swimming. In April 2007 Koi Herpesvirus (KHV) Disease was made a notifiable disease in England and Wales.

Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is caused by a protozoan (Leishmania sp.), which is spread between animals by sandflies. The disease is present in Europe, the Middle East and many tropical countries. Several cases are diagnosed in dogs each year in the UK where infection has been picked up abroad. The organism can cause disease in people.. Affected animals may lose weight, develop skin lesions and swollen lymph nodes, become lame and have recurring fevers.

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a disease of animals, including people, which is caused by bacteria called leptospires. There are many different leptospires and they are widespread throughout the world, with some occurring in the UK. Different leptospires vary in the disease caused and the main animals affected. They are commonly present in the urine of infected animals and can survive in water for long periods. Infection may be spread by skin contact with infected urine or water or, less commonly, by ingesting urine contaminated feed or water. Clinical signs seen vary depending on the species of animal affected, and the type of leptospiral organism involved. Leptosira hardjo in cattle may cause a sudden drop in milk production, abortions, birth of weak calves or infertility. Pigs in the UK are commonly infected with Leptospira serovar Bratislava, which is reported to cause reproductive disease. However the significance of this infection in pigs remains uncertain. Dogs infected with Leptospira canicola or Leptospira icterohaemorrhagica may develop kidney failure or liver disease. Rats are recognised as being a reservoir of infection for Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae. Some animals may remain carriers of the organism without showing clinical signs and remain a source of infection for others. Many of the leptospiral organisms can cause illness in humans and care should be taken by those handling infected animals or working in the immediate environment.

Listeriosis

Listeriosis is caused by a bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes. It occurs worldwide in the environment, but in seen more commonly in cooler climates including the UK. It can cause disease in people who may become infected by eating contaminated food. The bacteria can continue to multiply at fridge temperature. Many species of animals can be infected by Listeria but clinical disease is mostly seen in ruminants such as cattle, sheep and goats. Clinical signs may include loss of appetite, dullness and nervous signs such as circling and head pressing. The organism can also be a cause of abortion. The disease can be spread by contaminated feed or by grazing grassland containing the bacterium. The organism has been frequently isolated from silage.

Louping-ill

Louping-ill is a virus infection of the central nervous system, spread by the bite of ticks, that affects mainly sheep but can infect many species of domestic animals, wild animals, and some species of wild birds: it is an important disease of grouse. It also occasionally affects people, when it can cause fever or potentially serious infections of the brain (encephalitis) or spinal cord (poliomyelitis). The disease occurs regularly in certain areas throughout the British Isles where pastures are infested with the sheep tick (Ixodes ricinus). These are mainly hilly areas of rough upland grazing or moorland. Besides tick bites, the virus can be transmitted by contact with infected animal tissues, particularly if these are handled in a manner which generates aerosols. There is also a possibility of transmission by unpasteurised milk from viraemic animals. Louping-ill is also known as infectious ovine encephalomyelitis, and is one of a group of closely related viruses known as the tick-borne encephalitides, other flaviviruses do not occur in the UK.

Lumpy Skin Disease

Lumpy skin disease affects cattle and water buffalo and it is caused by a pox virus. It has never occurred in the UK, but is present in Africa. The disease is believed to be spread between animals by biting flies and mosquitoes. Although few animals die from the disease, many in a herd will be affected. It causes damage to hides, loss of milk and beef production, abortions in females and sterility in bulls. The economic losses in herds with the disease are very severe. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Lungworm

Lungworm is a disease caused by parasitic worms that live in the respiratory tract of infected animals. There are many different types of worm which affect different species of animals. However the diseases caused by the three species of the worm Dictyocaulus, affecting cattle, goats, sheep, horses and donkeys, are the most important. They are widespread throughout the world including Europe, Australia and North America. The cattle lungworm, Dictyocaulus viviparus, can cause outbreaks of severe disease in young cattle in their first summer at grass. Clinical signs include coughing and breathlessness and some affected animals may die. Recovered animals are generally immune to further disease, but may remain a source of infection for other animals. The disease in horses may occur where donkeys share the same grazing.

Top

Mastitis

Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland (udder) and it can occur in any mammal. It is mostly caused by infection of the gland with bacteria or, more uncommonly, other organisms such as yeasts . The disease occurs worldwide. In the UK it is of greatest importance, both economically and for welfare reasons, in dairy cows. The clinical signs of disease vary depending on the type of organism causing the infection and the numbers of the organism present. Severe infections can cause swelling of the udder, a fever and even death. However less acute infections may cause a reduction in milk yield and changes in the appearance of the milk (watery, lumpy) with no other clinical signs. Cows can be infected by organisms present in the environment, including bedding and milking machines or by spread of infection from other infected cows, particularly during milking. Poor milking technique encourages the spread. The most common bacterial causes of mastitis are streptococci, coliforms and staphylococci.

Maedi-Visna

Maedi Visna (MV) is a disease of sheep present in most sheep producing countries, including GB. It is caused by a lentivirus. A closely related virus, Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis CAE), causes a similar disease in goats. The name of the disease is formed by the two Icelandic words that describe the clinical signs it produces – maedi (‘laboured breathing’ affecting the lungs) and visna (‘shrinking’ or ‘wasting’ affecting the central nervous system). The virus can infect sheep at any age, but signs of the disease are not usually seen until at least 3 years of age. These may include pneumonia, weight loss, joint problems, mastitis and nervous signs. In goats the main clinical sign of CAE is lameness. Weight loss and shrinkage of the udder may also be present. The nervous form of the disease occurs rarely and generally only in young kids. The disease spreads easily between sheep and can cause high economic losses. A MV/CAE accreditation scheme is run by the Scottish Agricultural College.

Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

MRSA is the term used to describe strains of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus which are resistant to the antimicrobial substance meticillin (a type of penicillin). MRSA is one of a group of different bacteria commonly referred to as “superbugs” in the popular press, because of their resistance to antimicrobials. S. aureus often occurs on the skin and mucous membranes of man and other mammals where it exists harmlessly. However, it can cause problems when it gets the opportunity to enter the body of man or animals. In man, it can cause abscesses and boils and can infect wounds (including surgical wounds). Spread from local infections can result in bacteraemia (blood-poisoning). In animals, S. aureus causes a range of diseases in a number of different species including mastitis (infection of the udder) in cattle and sheep, as well as skin and wound infections and abscesses in horses, rabbits and dogs. It can also cause arthritis in poultry. Generally the strains of S. aureus that affect animals are different from those affecting man. MRSA is no more efficient at causing disease than strains of S.aureus that are susceptible to meticillin, but it is more difficult to treat because the range of antimicrobials which are effective against it is reduced. The main species carrying MRSA is man. However, in some circumstances other animals can carry MRSA and the organism occasionally causes disease in animals

Mycoplasma agalactia

See Contagious agalactia

Myxomatosis

Myxomatosis is a disease of rabbits, both domestic and wild, which is caused by the myxoma virus, a member of the pox family. It does not affect any other mammals. The virus is transmitted to susceptible rabbits by biting insects. It may also be transmitted directly between rabbits if they are in very close proximity, although this is much less common. The first clinical sign to appear is conjunctivitis (‘red eye’) with a runny discharge. The rabbit may be dull, with a loss of appetite and develops a high fever. Some rabbits may die very quickly, others can develop swollen eyes, lips, nose and ears, with laboured breathing. It is present throughout Europe, including the UK, and also in Australia.

Top

Newcastle Disease

Newcastle disease is a highly contagious disease of birds caused by a paramyxo virus. Many species of birds, including commercial, wild and pet birds, can be affected.. The disease is a worldwide problem and sporadic outbreaks frequently occur. The last outbreak in chickens and turkeys in the UK was in 1997. It has occurred in pheasants in 2005 and in partridges in 2006. Affected birds may show a range of signs from mild illness to severe disease with dullness, loss of appetite, coughing, sneezing, diarrhoea and nervous signs. The numbers of birds dying can be high, particularly where young birds have been infected. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Oncorhynchus Masou Virus (OMV)

Oncorhynchus masou virus disease (OMVD) affects salmonid fish including kokanee, masou, chum and coho salmon as well as rainbow trout. Within these species the disease is economically important. OMV is found within Japan and is probably present in the coastal rivers of eastern Asia. Low water temperatures (<14oC) increase the likelihood of infection, younger fish are most susceptible to increased mortality. Clinical signs of disease may include lethargy, anorexia, darkening of the body and petechiae across the body wall. Although often fatal, some surviving fish may develop epitheliomas, mainly on the jaws, as well as the fins, operculum, cornea and body surface. OMV can be transmitted by direct contact or through contact with water as the virus is shed within the faeces, urine, gametes and the mucus (over the skin) of fish. Vertical transmission from parent fish to egg can also occur during reproduction. OMV is not a notifiable disease.

Ovine Chlamydiosis

Ovine chlamydiosis is also called Enzootic Abortion of Ewes.

Ornithosis

See Psittacosis

Pancreas Disease (PD)

PD is a serious infectious disease of farmed Atlantic salmon primarily occurring during their first year at sea. PD has been reported from Scotland, Norway, America, Ireland, Spain and France. Affected fish cease shoaling, there is reduced or no feeding response and fish can become completely anorexic and are unable to maintain their position within the water column. The disease may progress into a wasting of the body musculature, loss of weight and failure to regenerate pancreatic tissue. The disease is caused by an atypical alphavirus. Good husbandry conditions and reducing the feed intake of stock may allow recovery over time. Fish become susceptible to other secondary infections. PD is not a notifiable disease.

Paramyxovirus of pigeons

Paramyxovirus infection of pigeons is caused by a virus belonging to the Newcastle Disease group. The clinical signs in pigeons are similar to those seen in Newcastle Disease in poultry, including thirst, diarrhoea and the development of nervous signs such as twisting of the neck. The disease occurs in many countries and was first found to be affecting birds in the UK in 1983. Many cases have since been identified. The best protection against the disease is vaccination. Any suspicion of the clinical disease must be notified to the Government.

Peste des Petits Ruminants

This disease, which is also known as goat plague, is caused by a paramyxovirus that is similar to the virus causing rinderpest. It affects sheep and goats. The disease has never occurred in the UK, but is economically the most important animal disease in southern equatorial Africa. Clinical signs may not be apparent in areas where the disease is widespread. However, more usually, affected animals have a high fever and a nasal discharge. They rapidly become very dull, with sneezing and lip-licking, followed by salivation due to mouth lesions and severe diarrhoea. Many animals will die and any survivors will be in poor condition for a prolonged period and susceptible to other diseases. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs and respiratory tract. It causes clinical signs such as laboured breathing, breathlessness, coughing and an increase in temperature. In severe infections, many animals may die. The disease occurs worldwide in all species of animal. In farmed animals, such as growing cattle and pigs that may be kept indoors, respiratory disease is one of the most economically important diseases. It may be caused by a large variety of organisms that may act alone or in combination with others. Environmental factors including overcrowding, lack of sufficient ventilation, stress and mixing of different ages of animals, play a very important role in the development of the disease. Organisms associated with respiratory disease include viruses (for example respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and bacteria (for example, pasteurella).

Porcine Dermatitis Nephropathy Syndrome (PDNS)

PDNS is a disease of pigs and has often occurred in groups already affected with PMWS (described below). It has been associated with many causes but the specific cause remains elusive. The disease was uncommon in the UK before 1999. Subsequently it became more widespread though more recently possibly becoming less common.. Affected animals are generally between 10 weeks and 9 months old. Clinical signs include loss of appetite, dullness, loss of weight and the appearance of crusts and scabs on the body and feet. Skin lesions may not occur but the underlying kidney disease may cause illness and deaths. The clinical and postmortem appearance of PMWS and PDNS can sometimes be indistinguishable from swine fever. Any suspicion of swine fever must be notified to the Government.

Porcine teschoviral polioencephalomyelitides

Porcine polioencephalitis covers a group of closely related pig diseases caused by different types of porcine teschoviruses. One of these diseases (Teschen disease) causes a severe nervous condition. It has never occurred in the UK, but in the past has been reported in central Europe and parts of Africa. Another much less severe disease (Talfan disease) was described in the UK some years ago and has occurred elsewhere in Europe, North America and Australasia.

In recent years no outbreaks of Teschen disease have been reported anywhere. Clinical signs are of a fever, loss of appetite and inco-ordination. More severe nervous signs appear as the disease progresses, including loss of voice. Affected animals may die within a few days. Mildly affected animals may recover. Any suspicion of Teschen disease must be notified to the Government.

Postweaning Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome (PMWS)

PMWS is a disease of pigs that was first diagnosed in Great Britain in 1999. It is associated with a virus called porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV-2), although this is not now thought to be the primary cause of PMWS. Reasons are that PCV-2 is widespread in pigs, is often present in the absence of the disease, and more particularly was present in pigs many years before PMWS was recognised. Although the involvement of other factors present at the same time is thought necessary to produce the disease, the primary cause remains unproven. The disease occurs in young pigs, most commonly aged between 6 and 12 weeks. It can cause severe weight loss, and other signs such as breathlessness, diarrhoea and jaundice may be seen. Large numbers of pigs may die. It is often seen with PDNS in the same group of pigs. The disease is widespread in the UK and has now been reported in most other pig-producing countries. The clinical and postmortem appearance of PMWS and PDNS can sometimes be indistinguishable from swine fever. Any suspicion of swine fever must be notified to the Government.

Psittacosis / Ornithosis

Psittacosis, also known as avian chlamydiosis, is a disease mainly seen in psittacines such as parrots, although it also occurs in budgerigars and cockatiels, as well as turkeys, ducks and geese. It is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydophila psittaci. It is recognised worldwide. Clinical signs of the disease may only occur when birds are under stress, for example after transport. They include loss of appetite, dullness, laboured breathing, weight loss and the presence of diarrhoea. The disease can be transmitted from infected birds to people.

Top

Q-Fever

Q-Fever is a disease of animals and man caused by the organism Coxiella burnetti. Coxiella burnetti belong to a group of organisms known as rickettsia. The infection has been found in various wild and domestic animals and birds and in some arthropods, such as ticks. The species most commonly infected are cattle, sheep and goats. The organism is distributed world wide, and is present in the UK. Often the organism does not cause any disease in animals, but occasionally infections have been recorded as causing placentitis (inflammation of the placenta) and abortion in cattle, sheep and goats. The organism may be present in the reproductive fluids or raw milk from infected animals. Ticks carrying the infection may be another source. In humans Q Fever is generally a self limiting illness and many people who become infected suffer no symptoms. Some individuals become ill: their symptoms will usually be similar to a flu-like illness or pneumonia.

Rabies

Rabies is a fatal disease of the nervous system that can affect all mammals including man. It is caused by a rhabdovirus. It is possible to contract the disease by being bitten, licked or scratched by an infected animal. The disease was eradicated from the UK in 1922, but it is still present in many other countries.. Clinical signs include paralysis and aggression always leading to a painful death. Bats in Northern Europe are commonly infected by a rabies-like virus called European Bat Lyssavirus (EBL). On rare occasions it is known to infect other animals and people. Since 1977, 4 human deaths in Europe have been caused by EBL as a result of bites from bats. Examinations of bats in GB have found a very small number of them to be infected, with a higher number of Daubenton’s bats showing evidence of exposure to the virus. Investigations and testing for EBL are continuing. EBL rabies does not affect the UK’s rabies-free status. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Rainbow Trout Fry Syndrome (RTFS)

RTFS is caused by the bacterium Flavobacterium psychrophilum. Salmonid species are susceptible, mainly at the fry and fingerling stages. The disease is widespread within rainbow trout farms throughout Europe. Clinical signs include increased lethargy and pigmentation, loss of balance, exophthalmia, ascites, abdominal swelling and pale gills. The disease can be controlled with anti-bacterial therapeutics. RTFS is not a notifiable disease.

Rift Valley Fever

Rift Valley Fever is a disease affecting sheep, goats and cattle. There is also a human form of the disease. It is caused by a phlebovirus, the Rift Valley Fever virus, and is transmitted between animals by mosquitoes. It has never occurred in the UK, but causes severe problems in Africa, the Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Some affected young lambs may die suddenly without showing any signs of disease but more commonly they develop a fever, refuse food, weaken and die within 24 hours. Over 90% of affected lambs may die. In adult sheep, affected pregnant ewes may lose their lambs, with fever and vomiting. Both cattle and people frequently catch the disease from sheep. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Rinderpest (Cattle plague)

Rinderpest is a contagious disease, mainly of cattle, which can also affect sheep, goats, pigs and some wild ruminants. It is caused by a paramyxo virus. The disease was last diagnosed in the UK in 1877, but it is still present in other parts of the world particularly Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Clinical signs range from mild to severe and may include loss of appetite, dullness and shivering. The inside of the nostrils may redden and ulcerate. The animal may have bloody diarrhoea. Affected animals usually die and the disease spreads quickly within the herd. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Top

Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is an infection of animals and man caused by a group of bacteria called Salmonella. These can live in the digestive tract of a wide range of mammals (including people), birds and reptiles and are present worldwide. Over 2,500 strains (serovars) of Salmonella are known most of which rarely cause disease. However certain strains, such as S.entiridis and S.typhimurium, may cause human disease if, for example, foodstuffs become contaminated with animal faeces. Eggs from infected hens and milk from infected dairy herds may also contain salmonella. Infection may also follow contact with infected animals. It is usually fairly short-lived and often does not cause any obvious disease. However disease may occur with high temperature, diarrhoea and blood poisoning. In a few cases infected animals or people may carry certain strains of the bacteria for prolonged periods. Laboratories report all findings of Salmonella in samples from food producing animals and animal feed to the Government every year. These data are gathered together and published.

Scrapie

Scrapie is a fatal brain disease of sheep and occasionally goats. The agent causing the infection is thought to be a protein called a prion. The way in which the disease is contracted and spread is not fully understood. The disease occurs in the UK and many other countries. Australia and New Zealand are free of scrapie. There are many clinical signs, which develop gradually months or years after the animal has become infected. These include skin irritation, excitability, hind limb weakness and loss of condition. The weight of evidence available shows that the agent does not affect people. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Sheep pox

Sheep pox is a contagious disease of sheep. It is caused by the pox virus that is thought to also cause goat pox ( that is, true goat pox, not the skin condition commonly seen in UK goats caused by Staphylococcus aureus and colloquially referred to as goat pox). Sheep pox was last seen in the UK in 1866. It is still present in Asia and parts of Africa. In lambs, the clinical signs can be very severe with death occurring very quickly. There is a fever and paralysis and skin lesions are seen on wool free areas. The skin lesions start as small pimples, which may expand and develop a pus-like discharge. Affected animals may abort their lambs or develop pneumonia and other respiratory problems. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Sheep scab

Sheep scab is a skin disease of sheep caused by a mite called Psoroptes ovis. It is present in several sheep producing countries, including the UK. It causes severe itching in affected sheep if left untreated. Scaly lesions develop on the woolly parts of the body and sheep often bite themselves and rub against objects to relieve the irritation causing loss of wool. Untreated sheep may lose weight. Sheep scab is a notifiable disease in Northern Ireland.

Sleeping Disease

Sleeping disease is caused by an alphavirus. This is an economically important condition of freshwater rainbow trout production. The disease has been reported in France and outbreaks have occurred within England and Scotland, often resulting in heavy mortality. Sleeping disease usually occurs between 9-15°C and can affect all sizes of fish but is most serious within fingerlings. Infected fish may show a reduced feeding response and lie on the bottom of the tank or cage until disturbed. Not all infected fish will show the symptoms of disease but they may act as carriers of the virus and pose a risk of disease and virus transmission to other fish populations. Sleeping Disease is not a notifiable disease.

Spring Viraemia of Carp (SVC)

SVC is a disease that can affect all species of carp, although the common carp is the most susceptible. Most cyprinids can act as carriers of the disease along with pike, zander and wells catfish which can also be affected. It is caused by a rhabdovirus, and disease outbreaks generally occur as the water temperature rises in the spring, with most deaths occurring at temperatures between 10 and 17°C. SVC is present in many European countries and in the USA. Periodic and significant outbreaks have occurred in the UK in recent years. All ages of carp are susceptible to the virus, with clinical signs including darkening of the skin, swollen eyes and abdomen, along with pale gills. Many fish may die from this disease, which can be transmitted through contaminated water and the movement of live fish. As SVC is a notifiable disease, then any suspicion must be notified to the Government.

Streptococcus suis infections

Streptococcus suis is a bacterium that can cause disease in pigs and, rarely, in people. There are several different types of the bacterium with serotype 2 most commonly associated with clinical disease in the UK. The bacterium is widespread throughout the world. Clinical signs in pigs are generally meningitis, characterised by dullness, fever, tremors and inco-ordination, with respiratory signs and lameness also not uncommon. There are other streptococci that can also cause disease.

Swine Fever

See Classical Swine Fever.

Swine Influenza

Swine influenza is a disease of pigs caused by a virus (influenza virus). Influenza viruses exist as various types and the most common type found in pigs is Type A. The virus is present in all pig producing countries, including the UK. Type A strains can also infect other species, including people, although the strains of virus involved are usually different. However pigs have been described as ‘mixing vessels’ for the various influenza virus strains (including the strains causing avian influenza). This means that they may have a role in the spread of influenza viruses between species or in the development of new strains of virus. Clinical signs of the disease may include dullness, fever, coughing and breathlessness with often a rapid recovery. Swine influenza can be seen in combination with other diseases.

Swine Vesicular Disease

Swine Vesicular Disease (SVD) is a disease of pigs caused by an enterovirus The UK has been free of the disease since 1982 but it is still present in other parts of Europe. The clinical signs of SVD, that is fever followed by severe lameness caused by blisters on the feet, are indistinguishable from those of Foot and Mouth Disease. Affected pigs rarely die. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government. This is a different disease to Swine influenza.

Top

Teschen Disease

See Porcine teschoviral polioencephalomyelitides

Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasitic organism called Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan. It can infect most animals and birds, including people, and is found throughout the world. Members of the cat family are important in the spread of toxoplasmosis, as they shed the oocysts (eggs) of the organism in their faeces for a period following infection. The organism is an important cause of abortion and the birth of stillborn lambs in sheep and occasionally in goats. Infection with toxoplasma may cause problems for pregnant women and for people whose immune system is adversely affected for another reason.

Trichinosis

There is no evidence that trichinella exists in pigs in the UK. However trichinosis is an important infection in pigs in several other countries because it can affect humans. People may become infected by eating undercooked pig meat containing the parasitic nematode (‘worm’) Trichinella spiralis, which causes the disease. Infection in people can be very serious as the parasites migrate through the muscles, which in some cases has been fatal. Clinical signs of disease are rarely seen in infected animals. The infection is still present in pigs, wild boar and horses in other countries. Disease in humans in the UK was last diagnosed in 2000 linked to consumption of undercooked imported infected pig meat.

Tuberculosis (Bovine TB)

Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is an important cause of illness in cattle and can also affect other farm animals, wildlife and people. It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis). Tuberculosis used to be widespread in cattle until an eradication campaign began in 1950; this reduced the infection to a very low level by the 1960s but in recent years the number of new cases has steadily increased.

Infection most often happens when droplets of moisture containing the organism are inhaled, but also occurs by eating or drinking contaminated material. Spread of infection to people by contaminated milk or dairy produce was an important public health issue before pasteurisation was widely used.

After infection the bacteria may spread to any part of the body, but the disease usually progresses only slowly. Infected animals do not appear ill until the characteristic tuberculous abscesses have developed. These are found most frequently in the lungs and in the lymph nodes of the head and chest, but can occur in most organs including the mesenteric lymph nodes, liver, spleen and udder. Clinical signs of advanced disease include weakness, emaciation, difficulty in breathing, enlargement of lymph nodes and cough. Cattle with suspected bTB are usually identified by the tuberculin skin test before they develop clinical signs. Diagnosis is confirmed through post-mortem examination and bacteriological culture of M. bovis organisms. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease in cattle must be notified to the Government.

Verocytotoxin Escherichia coli

Escherichia coli is a type of bacterium present in the gut of animals. There are many different strains of the bacterium, most of which are harmless. However, certain strains such as O157 produce a toxin, called verocytotoxin, which may cause disease in people. The disease may range from mild diarrhoea to very serious illness and even death in young children and the elderly. This strain of E.coli does not cause illness in cattle or sheep, but a significant number of animals carry it in their guts and excrete it in their faeces. This presents a hazard to people. The infection is present in many countries including the UK.

Vesicular Stomatitis

Vesicular stomatitis is a disease of cattle, pigs and horses. It is caused by a rhabdovirus. The disease has never been reported in the UK but is present in North, Central and South America. It is transmitted between animals by biting flies. In cattle and pigs the clinical signs of the disease are identical to foot and mouth disease. The affected animal has a high temperature and blisters and vesicles appear on the lips, tongue and feet. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS)

VHS is a disease that mainly affects farmed rainbow trout in fresh water. However it has also been reported in cultured turbot, whitefish, grayling and pike. It is widespread within mainland Europe (where it is becoming distributed in a number of wild fish species) and in Pacific cod and herring. Outbreaks have occurred in Scotland, Ireland and England. The disease is caused by a novirhabdovirus, with transmission mainly through contact with live infected fish. Survivors of an outbreak may become carriers of the disease. Clinical signs are variable and may include darkening of the body, protruding eyes, swollen abdomen and bleeding at the fin bases. Internally, extensive haemorrhaging of the viscera may be observed. Affected fish may show erratic behaviour. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Top

Warble fly

The warble fly is an insect that can cause severe damage to the hides of animals. It mainly affects cattle although horses and deer can also be affected. The disease caused by the fly has been eradicated from the UK, but still exists in many other parts of the world. The fly lays its eggs on the skin. This can cause the animal to become distressed. The larvae hatching from the eggs travel through the body towards the back, where swellings develop. The damage caused to the hides is usually permanent and has economic consequences. In severe cases of infestation, the animal may lose its appetite. Occasionally the pressure of the larvae on the spinal cord causes paralysis. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

West Nile Virus

WNV is one of the equine encephalitides and it can cause encephalitis (a serious nervous disease) in horses, which can be fatal. It is caused by a flavivirus. It can also infect birds and people. It is spread by insects, generally mosquitoes, which have bitten infected birds. It may cause central nervous signs in horses and people. Most birds that carry the virus remain unaffected. However some species, such as the crow family, are more susceptible to the disease. The clinical disease has never been reported in the UK. However some blood samples recently taken from migratory birds have demonstrated that they have been exposed to the virus. The virus itself has not been isolated from these birds. Clinical disease has been diagnosed in many other countries including the United States, France and Italy. It is also present in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Any suspicion of this notifiable disease must be notified to the Government.

Further information

Page last modified: 9 May, 2011
Page reviewd: 18 July 2007