New Zealand

Scabby Mouth (ORF)

Scabby mouth, also called orf, contagious ecthyma or contagious pustular dermatitis, is a viral disease (poxvirus) affecting sheep and goats.

  • Scabby mouth is highly contagious, with infection occurring through direct contact with the virus which can survive in the environment for more than one year.
  • Grazing of coarse pastures and thistles may predispose stock to infection with Scabby Mouth as oral abrasions increase the potential for the virus to gain entry.
  • Scabby mouth most commonly affects lambs in first year of life, but also can occur in older sheep.
  • Scabby mouth commonly affects the lips, mouth and surrounding skin, but can also affect the face, feet and the udder of nursing ewes.
  • Severely affected lambs are unable to feed with loss of condition and depressed growth rates.
  • There is no treatment for scabby mouth, so prevention by vaccination is important. The recommended program is to vaccinate each year’s crop of lambs. This is generally done at docking/tailing.
  • This virus is transmissible to humans, causing skin lesions. It is therefore recommended that people handling infected sheep should wear appropriate protection.
Scabby mouth