Sheep and goat pox: how to spot and report the diseases

How to spot sheep and goat pox, what to do if you suspect them and measures to prevent their spread.

Sheep and goat pox affect sheep and goats.

Humans aren’t affected.

The diseases have not been present in Great Britain since the 1800s.

Sheep and goat pox are notifiable animal diseases. If you suspect them you must report them 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 sheep and goat pox

Clinical signs of the diseases include:

  • female animals produce less milk and have abortions
  • fever
  • nodules (bumps) in the skin, mouth and nose that cause pain
  • swollen and tender udder or testicles
  • tongue lesions (damage to the skin)
  • salivation
  • discharge from the nose and eyes
  • swollen lymph nodes

How sheep and goat pox are spread

The major route for spread of the disease is direct contact between infected animals.

Minor routes of infection are:

  • contaminated objects such as farm equipment, vehicles, bedding and fodder
  • insects spreading the disease

Preventing and controlling sheep and goat pox

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

If you report suspicion of sheep or goat pox APHA vets will investigate.

If sheep or goat pox 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 sheep and goat pox

Sheep and goat pox are covered by the Specified Diseases (Notification and Slaughter) Order 1992 and the Specified Diseases (Notification) Order 1996.

Sheep and goat pox are also covered by EU Council Directive 92/119.

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.