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Characteristics, prevalence and aetiology of lesions of the oral mucosa in adult sheep
  1. P. J. Watson, BVM&S, MSc, CertSHP, MRCVS1,
  2. S. F. E. Scholes, BVM&S, PhD, FRCPath, DipECVP, MRCVS2 and
  3. R. P. Smith, BSc3
  1. 1Veterinary Laboratories Agency – Penrith, Merrythought, Calthwaite, Penrith CA11 9RR
  2. 2Veterinary Laboratories Agency – Lasswade, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0PZ
  3. 3Centre for Epidemiology and Risk Analysis, Veterinary Laboratories Agency – Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB


A total of 214 sheep with lesions of the oral mucosa were recorded at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency regional laboratories between March 15, 2002 and February 28, 2003. Using denominator data from the scrapie abattoir survey a prevalence of 0·95 per cent (95 per cent CI 0·82 to 1·10 per cent) was recorded, and using the fallen stock survey a prevalence of 1·15 per cent (95 per cent CI 0·64 to 1·91 per cent) was recorded. The lesions varied widely and included dental pad lesions in 20 per cent of cases. In total, 248 sites were affected, the commonest being the lower gum below the incisors, which was affected in 100 sheep. Most of the lesions were 1 cm or less in diameter. Ninety per cent of the 251 lesions examined histologically were erosions, ulcers, healed ulcers, focal epithelial necrosis or haemorrhages, and the changes observed indicated that trauma was the most likely primary cause.

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