Vaccination against footrot in Bhutan

Virulent footrot was eliminated from a flock in Bhutan by means of serogroup-specific vaccine.

Gurung, R. B., Dhungyel, O. P., Tshering, P., Egerton, J. R. 2006, ‘The use of an autogenous Dichelobacter nodosus vaccine to eliminate clinical signs of virulent footrot in a sheep flock in Bhutan’, Veterinary Journal 172(2), pp. 356-363


An outbreak of virulent footrot was investigated in a flock of 605 Merino cross-bred sheep in Bhutan. Conventional control methods in the preceding eight years had reduced its prevalence from 36-79% in different components of the flock to about 15% overall. Only one serogroup (B) of Dichelobacter nodosus was identified among 40 isolates cultured from affected sheep. A vaccine prepared from this strain was used in a pilot trial to compare the response of 14 treated and 14 untreated sheep. All affected, vaccinated animals in this trial healed quickly and were protected against re-infection while additional cases developed among untreated sheep during a period favourable for the spread of footrot. The serogroup B vaccine was administered to the whole flock for two successive years. No other footrot treatment was given during these or subsequent years. The whole flock was examined three times, foot by foot, for two years and twice yearly for another two years. When vaccination began there were 88 affected sheep in the flock, an affected sheep being defined as an animal with a foot-score of 2 or greater in one or more feet. There were neither affected sheep in the flock 30 days after the first dose of vaccine nor were any identified in later inspections. Virulent footrot, originating from the farm under investigation, persisted in neighbouring village flocks during this period. It was concluded that whole flock specific D. nodosus vaccination made a major contribution to the elimination of all clinical signs of footrot from the flock of 605 sheep where the condition had previously persisted for 10 years.

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