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Acta Vet Scand. 2004;45(1-2):19-26.

Bacteriological investigation of infectious keratoconjunctivitis in Norwegian sheep.

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National Veterinary Institute, Oslo, Norway.


Contagious keratoconjunctivitis is a rather common disease in Norwegian sheep. Since the knowledge of its aetiology is limited, the present study was performed to determine the microorganisms involved. Local veterinarians throughout the country collected conjunctival swabs from both sick (n = 43) and healthy (n = 42) sheep on 15 farms with outbreaks of ovine keratoconjunctivitis, and further from healthy sheep (n = 50) on 17 farms not showing any signs of conjunctival disease. All samples were cultivated for bacteria and mycoplasma. Listeria monocytogenes was isolated from 3 cases (1%) in one single herd. Staphylococcus aureus (5%), Corynebacterium spp. (2%) and Escherichia coli (4%) were isolated only in herds with keratoconjunctivitis, but from both sick and healthy animals. Moraxella (Branhamella) ovis was isolated from 28% of sampled animals in affected herds and from 10% of sampled animals in healthy herds. The corresponding numbers for Moraxella spp. were 9%/12%, for Pseudomonas spp. 7%/8%, for Staphylococcus spp. 22//22%, for Bacillus spp. 12%/14%, for Micrococcus spp. 6%/2% and for Streptococcus/Enterococcus spp. 2%/2%. Mycoplasma conjunctivae was isolated from 16 animals with keratoconjunctivitis (37%) and from 3 animals without clinical signs (7%) in farms with keratoconjunctivitis. In farms without clinical signs of keratoconjunctivitis, M. conjunctivae was isolated in 4 animals (8%). To our knowledge, this is the first time M. conjunctivae has been isolated in Norway. Other predisposing agents found were Moraxella (Branhamella) ovis and Listeria monocytogenes. The etiological importance of different microorganisms in ovine keratoconjunctivitis seems to vary; some are probably only present as secondary invaders. Other possible causes of ovine keratoconjunctivitis in Norway, such as Chlamydia psittaci, remain to be investigated.

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