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What are the risks during the lambing season?

Posted by Be Well

What are the risks during the lambing season?
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If you are pregnant, you should avoid close contact with sheep during lambing season which runs from January to April.

Pregnant women who come into close contact with sheep during lambing may risk their own health and that of their unborn child, from infections that can occur in some ewes (female sheep). These include chlamydiosis (enzootic abortion of ewes - EAE), toxoplasmosis, listeriosis, which are common causes of miscarriage in ewes, and Q fever.

Small risks

These infections are uncommon in sheep, and are even rarer in humans, so the number of human miscarriages resulting from contact with sheep is extremely small. However, it is still important for pregnant women to be aware of the potential risks associated with close contact with sheep during lambing.

To avoid the possible risk of infection, the Department of Health recommends that pregnant women should:

  • not help to lamb or milk ewes,
  • avoid contact with aborted or newborn lambs or with the afterbirth, and
  • avoid handling clothing, boots and other items which have come into contact with ewes or lambs.

Farmers have a responsibility to minimize the risk to pregnant women from close contact with sheep, including members of their family, the public and professional staff visiting farms.

Seek medical advice if you are pregnant and experience a high temperature, or flu-like symptoms, or if you think that you may have acquired infection from a farm environment.

NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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