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About Contagious Ecthyma
Contagious ecthyma is caused by a poxvirus. In domestic sheep and goats it is known as Orf. Orf is spread by direct contact with lesions or scabs from infected animals to humans and other animals.
Signs Of Disease
In animals, contagious ecthyma causes fluid-filled blisters with thick scabs on lips, mouth, nose, eyelids, ears and teats. The scabs on the mouth may make it difficult or painful for the animal to eat and some animals may appear weak. If scabs are on the feet, animals may find it painful to walk normally. Scabs on the teats may cause females to not let young nurse.
Where is Disease Found?
Contagious ecthyma occurs in domestic livestock and wild ruminants throughout North American, but it occurs rarely. Contagious ecthyma has not been documented in Idaho.
How Can I Protect Myself?
In humans, contagious ecthyma can cause raised nodules, typically on the hands after exposure to affected animals that can be extremely painful or itchy. Humans can get contagious ecthyma by touching scabs or lesions on an infected animal or by touching solid objects that have come into contact with the scabs. The virus enters through cuts or scratches in the skin, the eyes, nose or mouth. Wear gloves when handling domestic or wild sheep and goats. Do not touch or manipulate blisters or scabs on ill animals without rubber or latex gloves. Do not cut into blisters or scabs on ill animals. Wash hands, knives, and clothes with hot soapy water after field dressing or butchering infected animals.
Samples to Collect
If there is concern about this condition, contact a conservation officer or an Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Office. Appropriate samples can be collected for testing if deemed necessary.
Can I Eat The Meat?
Cooked meat from an infected animal can be consumed by humans. Trim off the affected parts of the skin and any underlying damaged tissue. Severely infected animals may be in poor condition, reducing the quality of the meat.
What is IDFG doing to help manage this disease?:
There is little that Idaho Department of Fish and Game can do to manage this disease in free-ranging populations.