Pneumonia and pleurisy in sheep during summer

18 October 2021

Both pneumonia and pleurisy in sheep can prove costly for producers, from having slow growth rates, carcase trimming or even death.

Pleurisy is inflammation of the lining of the chest cavity and is seen at slaughter as translucent bands joining the lungs to the insides of the ribs.

Pleurisy typically occurs in conjunction with pneumonia, which makes sheep reasonably sick. Many sheep recover from pneumonia, so the residual pleurisy is seen at processing.

Outbreaks of pneumonia and pleurisy are caused by either environmental, animal and pathogen factors, these could include:

Agriculture Victoria Veterinary Officer Hayden Morrow said the severity of signs can vary greatly as some sheep will not show any respiratory signs except a reduction in weight gain, while others develop nasal discharge, coughing, laboured breathing, exhaustion and a lack of appetite before progressing to death.

“Clinical cases of pneumonia lead to increases in mortality, increased treatment costs and a reduction in animal welfare. However, reductions in weight gain from mild cases are also likely to be significant,” Dr Morrow said.

Agriculture Victoria advises to focus on prevention and manage risk factors, which include:

Media contact: Sarah Hetherington, 0409 405 639