Contagious epididymitis: how to spot and report the disease

How to spot contagious epididymitis, what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent its spread.

Contagious epididymitis affects sheep and goats.

It doesn’t affect humans.

The disease has never been present in Great Britain.

Contagious epididymitis 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 epididymitis

Infected male sheep (rams) may initially show:

  • fever
  • depression
  • swelling of the skin on testicles

Later they may show:

  • thickening and swelling of the epididymis – close to the testicles

Contagious epididymitis is also a cause of poor fertility.

How contagious epididymitis is spread

The disease is present in the semen of infected animals and spreads during mating.

Preventing and controlling contagious epididymitis

You can only trade rams with other EU member states if your flock has had no cases of contagious epididymitis for a year.

You must also test rams for contagious epididymitis before export.

You can also help prevent the disease by practising strict biosecurity on your premises.

If you report suspicion of contagious epididymitis APHA vets will investigate.

If contagious epidymitis 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 epididymitis

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

Contagious epididymitis is also covered by:

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.