Cheesy gland is a chronic disease of sheep, characterised by the formation of abscesses in the lymph nodes and caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. Infection enters the flock by a carrier animal with shearing being the primary risk factor for spreading the disease.
Cheesy gland is a highly contagious bacteria that is spread via respiratory exhalation or transmission of ruptured fluids.
It is a hidden disease affecting the major internal body organs and both the internal and external lymph nodes in sheep.
The bacteria release a toxin, which damages the lymph node/organ and causes an abscess to form.
Over time, the pus-filled abscess reorganises to form the characteristic Caseous abscess or “Cheesy Gland”.
Cheesy gland causes losses to the sheep industry through carcass condemnations and trimmings, and the loss of wool production.
Control relies on the elimination of the source of infection by culling all sheep with enlarged lymph nodes, preferably at shearing when palpation is easier.
Using a vaccine with cheesy gland protection such as Ultravac® 5+1 B12, Glanvac® or Eweguard® will reduce the number of sheep that develop abscesses.
Cheesy gland prevalence in cull ewes is 5-7%1
Cheesy gland costs the NZ sheep industry approximately $1.2M per year 2
Nuttall, W. 1988 caseous lymphadenitis in sheep and goats in NZ. Surveillance 15 (1) 10-12. Plus recent 2017 data from asurequality