Keep an eye out for EPI – it may not be barber’s pole!

The relentless wet weather and flooding over recent months has created the perfect environment for a significant increase in mosquito populations. This outbreak dramatically increases the chance of sheep and goats being infected with the disease Eperythrozoonosis (commonly known as ‘Epi’) . Mosquitoes carry and spread the bacteria Mycoplasma ovis – which attaches to red blood cells and causes them to rupture.

IMPORTANT: the clinical signs of Epi present the same as those of Barber’s Pole Worm – mainly in anaemia and death, however, your response needs to be much different!

If you have areas of surface water and/or flooding on your property with a large population of mosquitoes, and are seeing sheep deaths, don’t immediately assume that the issue is Barber’s Pole. Whilst Barber’s Pole will be a significant threat this season and should be monitored, Epi must be kept in mind.

To determine where issues are stemming from, the first priority is to do a faecal egg count (FEC) with a larval culture. This will determine whether worms are present. It is important not to muster or stress stock whilst performing the testing. If the FEC count is high, treat sheep immediately with a broad-spectrum drench (preferably with two or more actives for maximum kill). If the FEC is not high, Epi can be suspected. If Epi is suspected, avoid any handling of the sheep – handling will cause extensive losses.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for a whole mob of this disease – only time. However, treatment for valuable stock such as rams or stud stock should be discussed with your local veterinarian.

Worm testing kits are available in store. If you have any concerns, please come and talk to our Animal Production Specialists.