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Do UK sheep farmers use orf vaccine correctly and could their vaccination strategy affect vaccine efficacy?

Small, Stephanie; Cresswell, Liz; Lovatt, Fiona; Gummery, Erica; Onyango, Josh; McQuilkin, Charles; Wapenaar, Wendela


Stephanie Small

Liz Cresswell

Clinical Associate Professor

Josh Onyango

Charles McQuilkin

Wendela Wapenaar


Orf, a parapoxvirus, is a zoonosis causing a contagious pustular dermatitis, and has a high morbidity in sheep worldwide. Despite a vaccine being available, orf prevalence in England is estimated to be 2 per cent in ewes and 20 per cent in lambs​​. There is concern that farmers are not complying with the vaccination guidelines and therefore the objective of this study was to investigate if orf vaccine is used correctly on sheep farms in the UK and to identify barriers and motivators of sheep farmers to use the vaccine. The survey was completed by 570 respondents. The results show several areas of concern; only 27 per cent of respondents used the correct site (axilla), 37 per cent of respondents would use orf vaccine up to a week after opening a vial (shelf life is eight hours), 33 per cent of respondents would vaccinate their ewes too close to lambing and 73 per cent of respondents did not separate vaccinated and non-vaccinated animals (both leading to infection risk for non-vaccinated animals). When vaccinating, only 53 per cent of respondents were wearing gloves and 31 per cent washed their hands just before and immediately after vaccination. Results demonstrate that orf vaccination is not carried out correctly on all UK sheep farms, which is likely to affect vaccine efficacy. A concern around vaccine efficacy, the ‘hassle’ of the scratch administration, the ‘risk of making it worse’ and the zoonotic risk when vaccinating were the most common barriers for using orf vaccine, highlighting the importance of veterinary advice when prescribing orf vaccine.


Small, S., Cresswell, L., Lovatt, F., Gummery, E., Onyango, J., McQuilkin, C., & Wapenaar, W. (2019). Do UK sheep farmers use orf vaccine correctly and could their vaccination strategy affect vaccine efficacy?. Veterinary Record, 185(10), 1-10.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 20, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 13, 2019
Publication Date Jul 20, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 7, 2020
Publicly Available Date Nov 30, -0001
Journal Veterinary Record
Print ISSN 0042-4900
Electronic ISSN 2042-7670
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 185
Issue 10
Pages 1-10
Keywords General Veterinary; General Medicine
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Additional Information This article has been accepted for publication in [Journal, Year]following peer review, and the Version of Record can be accessed online at

© British Veterinary Association. Reuse of this manuscript version (excluding any databases, tables, diagrams, photographs and other images or illustrative material included where a another copyright owner is identified)is permitted strictly pursuant to the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC 4.0)


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