New Zealand


Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis

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

Cheesy gland prevalence in cull ewes is 5-7%1

Cheesy gland costs the NZ sheep industry approximately $1.2M per year 2


  1. Nuttall, W. 1988 caseous lymphadenitis in sheep and goats in NZ. Surveillance 15 (1) 10-12. Plus recent 2017 data from asurequality
  2. AsureQuality CLA data 2017-2018 season