Contagious agalactia: how to spot and report the disease

How to spot contagious agalactia, what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent it.

Contagious agalactia affects sheep and goats.

It doesn’t affect humans.

It has never been present in Great Britain.

Contagious agalactia is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect it you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

How to spot contagious agalactia

Agalactia means an absence or faulty secretion of milk after giving birth.

Clinical signs in sheep and goats include:

  • weight loss
  • swollen joints
  • abortion
  • yellow and separated milk
  • shrivelled or swollen udders
  • less milk yielded
  • swollen or infected eyes
  • high temperature

Contagious agalactia isn’t usually fatal.

How contagious agalactia spreads

The disease spreads to young animals, mainly through milk, or from one nanny goat or ewe to another during milking.

Preventing and controlling contagious agalactia

You can prevent contagious agalactia by practising strict biosecurity on your premises.

If you report suspicion of contagious agalactia, APHA vets will investigate.

If contagious agalactia is confirmed, the outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases.

Further information on prevention and control

Controls to prevent disease

What happens when a notifiable disease is suspected or confirmed

Legislation relating to contagious agalactia

Contagious agalactia is covered by the Specified Diseases (Notification and Slaughter) Order 1992 and the Specified Diseases (Notification) Order 1996.

Published 26 August 2014
Last updated 18 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. Contact details for reporting a notifiable disease updated.

  2. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  3. First published.