There is anecdotal evidence of increased incidence of Pneumonia in sheep flocks in southern Australia this year. “Summer” pneumonia (chronic non progressive pneumonia) is commonly seen during warmer months and is likely to affect growth rates. Symptoms include coughing and nasal discharge. “Rapid onset” pneumonia (acute fibrinous pneumonia) is a progression from the milder “summer” pneumonia and is associated with a secondary bacterial infection.
Outbreaks of this disease often commence with sudden deaths before clinical signs are observed. As an outbreak proceeds respiratory signs become apparent including coughing, frothing at the mouth and nasal discharge. Causes are complex and include an 1) an infectious agent – bacteria, viruses etc., 2) weather - hot, dry and dusty conditions, summer storms and extreme weather events and 3) stress.
Prevention practices to reduce the incidence of pneumonia include good husbandry and optimal stock health. Treatment is with antibiotics, so consult your veterinarian if you suspect pneumonia in your sheep flock.