Ovine Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma (OPA) is a disease not widely known amongst sheep farmers across Northern Ireland.
This disease, also called “Jaagsiekte”, affects the lungs of sheep causing tumour growth, with symptoms including coughing, loss of condition and sometimes sudden death due to secondary Pasteuralla pneumonia. Infected sheep can pine away and have clear discharges from the nose. The disease eventually causes death. The nasal fluid contains the infective virus that will spread the infection to other sheep in the flock.
This disease can best be diagnosed by ultrasound examination of the lungs which can detect early stage cases. Routine post mortem examination of some thin cull ewes might also detect the presence of the disease in a flock. Farmers should consider scanning sheep to take out carriers or infected animals. The so called ‘wheelbarrow test’ will only detect late stage cases. It is important to note that sheep can show symptoms from around six months of age onwards.
CAFRE in conjunction with the Ulster Farmers’ Union are holding an OPA awareness event at CAFRE, Greenmount Hill Farm, 62c Glenhead Road, Glenwherry on Friday 14 June 2019 commencing at 1.00pm. The aim of the event is to provide Northern Ireland sheep farmers and industry with a background to OPA.
At the event Jason Barley, AFBI Veterinary Sciences Division will provide a background to OPA and will cover detection and control methods. CAFRE staff will be available to discuss how OPA has affected the CAFRE sheep flocks and what control methods have been put in place to help control the disease.
Patrick Grant, having recently set up independently as “The Sheep Vet”, has been involved in OPA scanning for a number of years now and will provide an overview of the findings to date. Patrick will also provide an insight into the scanning process. There will be a live scanning demonstration at the event.
UFU deputy president, David Brown stated: “This is an extraordinary event which has been organised specifically for sheep farmers and I would encourage farmers to attend this OPA awareness event. It will be a key opportunity to see and hear about the impact of this disease at farm level. The ultrasound scanning demonstration will enable farmers to see what the disease looks like. Sheep farmers across Northern Ireland take their flock health very seriously and this is an excellent opportunity to hear more about OPA.”
This event will commence at 1pm sharp and will conclude around 3pm. Directions to Greenmount Hill Farm will be signposted on the day.
Notes to editors:
- Photo caption: Stephen Clyde, CAFRE assistant farm manager, Graeme Campbell, CAFRE senior beef and sheep technologist and David Brown, UFU deputy president discussing plans for the OPA awareness event at CAFRE.
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