Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Do UK sheep farmers use orf vaccine correctly and could their vaccination strategy affect vaccine efficacy?
  1. Stephanie Small1,
  2. Liz Cresswell2,
  3. Fiona Lovatt3,
  4. Erica Gummery3,
  5. Josh Onyango4,
  6. Charles McQuilkin3 and
  7. Wendela Wapenaar3
  1. 1 MSD Animal Health, Milton Keynes, UK
  2. 2 Bristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  3. 3 School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  4. 4 School of Science and Technology, University of Northampton, Northampton, Northamptonshire, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondenceSchool of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK; wendela.wapenaar{at}


Orf, a parapoxvirus, is a zoonosis causing a contagious pustular dermatitis, and has a high morbidity in sheep worldwide. Despite a vaccine being available, orf prevalence in England is estimated to be 2 per cent in ewes and 20 per cent in lambs​​. There is concern that farmers are not complying with the vaccination guidelines and therefore the objective of this study was to investigate if orf vaccine is used correctly on sheep farms in the UK and to identify barriers and motivators of sheep farmers to use the vaccine. The survey was completed by 570 respondents. The results show several areas of concern; only 27 per cent of respondents used the correct site (axilla), 37 per cent of respondents would use orf vaccine up to a week after opening a vial (shelf life is eight hours), 33 per cent of respondents would vaccinate their ewes too close to lambing and 73 per cent of respondents did not separate vaccinated and non-vaccinated animals (both leading to infection risk for non-vaccinated animals). When vaccinating, only 53 per cent of respondents were wearing gloves and 31 per cent washed their hands just before and immediately after vaccination. Results demonstrate that orf vaccination is not carried out correctly on all UK sheep farms, which is likely to affect vaccine efficacy. A concern around vaccine efficacy, the ‘hassle’ of the scratch administration, the ‘risk of making it worse’ and the zoonotic risk when vaccinating were the most common barriers for using orf vaccine, highlighting the importance of veterinary advice when prescribing orf vaccine.

  • Orf
  • ecthyma
  • vaccination
  • use
  • compliance
  • storage
  • vaccine efficacy
  • barriers
  • motivators
  • sheep
View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Funding The study was supported by the MSD Animal Health and the University of Nottingham.

  • Competing interests SS declares that she is employed by MSD Animal Health. CMQ, EG, LC, FL, JO and WW declare that they have no conflict of interest.

  • Ethics approval This project was approved by the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected. Values in the sentence ‘Nine years later, Lovett et al estimated losses between £0.58 and £12.54’ have been amended to ‘£1.06 and £14.03’. Additionally, data in the sentence ‘Based on a sheep population of 6.7  million ewes and 4.6  million lambs in England, this leads to 1,265,240 ewes and 893,692 lambs infected per year’ has been updated to ‘125,960 ewes and 898,380 lambs’.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.