Ovine Abortion Sampling

Kirkton lambs

Sampling for an Ovine Abortion Investigation

If it is not possible to get lambs and their placentas to the vet lab for testing then samples can be collected on-farm or in the practice and submitted to the lab instead. Samples must be placed in leak-proof containers and packed with absorbent material in an outer container e.g. a biobottle. This is especially important when submitting ovine abortion material due to the risk to pregnant women from EAE and also because the zoonotic agents Salmonella and Campylobacter are relatively common infectious causes of ovine abortions.

Submit the following samples from each lamb, and if more than one ewe has aborted indicate which samples are from which ewe as samples can be pooled from twins and triplets for testing:

Placenta – for MZN smears for EAE & Brucellae

Submit a small piece of placenta with a cotyledon present (preferably as uncontaminated a piece as possible). Placenta is the material of choice for EAE. If it is not available submit the tongue as EAE organisms may be present in the amniotic fluid on its surface.

Stomach contents – for bacterial cultures and smears


Use a vacutainer needle and red top tube to collect stomach contents aseptically. If the stomach is empty a clean scalpel can be used to nick open the stomach and the stomach mucosa can be swabbed instead. Submit both a plain and charcoal swab if possible. A plain swab is required for smears and can be used for cultures too if a charcoal swab is not available.

Thoracic fluid – for toxoplasma serology

Use a syringe or pipette to collect about 1ml of fluid from the thorax and place into a red top tube.

Blood sample from the aborted ewe

At least mark aborted ewe so that can she can be sampled at a later date if necessary. The blood sample can be stored and tested later if necessary.

David, Caroline & the team at SACCVS Perth (your relevant centre will also be able to help)

SAC Consulting: Veterinary Services | 5 Bertha Park View | Perth | PH1 3FZ | Tel: +44 (0)1738 629167 | Fax: +44 (0)1738 643198 | Email: vcperth@sac.co.uk | Web: www.sruc.ac.uk

SAC Consulting: Veterinary Services | 5 Bertha Park View | Perth | PH1 3FZ | Tel: +44 (0)1738 629167 | Fax: +44 (0)1738 643198 | Email: vcperth@sac.co.uk | Web: www.sruc.ac.uk

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