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Do UK sheep farmers use orf vaccine correctly and could their vaccination strategy affect vaccine efficacy?


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
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