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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Prevalence of bacterial species associated with ovine footrot and contagious ovine digital dermatitis in Swedish slaughter lambs

Rosander, Anna; Albinsson, Rebecka; Koenig, Ulrika; Nyman, Ann; Frosth, Sara


Background Ovine footrot and contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD) are contagious mixed bacterial infections with major impacts on animal health and production. In Sweden, ovine footrot and CODD were first detected in 2004 and 2019, respectively. In 2009, a voluntary control programme for footrot was established, and a prevalence study in slaughter lambs was conducted, however, the distribution of footrot and CODD-associated bacteria is still unknown. This study examined the prevalence of Dichelobacter nodosus, Fusobacterium necrophorum and Treponema spp., as well as the current prevalence of footrot and CODD, in Swedish slaughter lambs. Results A total of 2048 feet, from 512 slaughter lambs, were collected from eight slaughterhouses throughout Sweden in autumn 2020. All feet were visually examined for lesions of footrot and CODD and sampled for subsequent real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis. Nine lambs (1.8%) had at least one foot affected with footrot (footrot score >= 2). A CODD grade 1 lesion was detected in a single lamb (0.2%). The prevalence of D. nodosus, F. necrophorum and Treponema spp. was 6.1%, 7.6% and 90.6%, respectively. The D. nodosus detected were benign strains. Conclusions The prevalence of footrot in Swedish slaughter lambs has been significantly reduced, from 5.8 to 1.8%, during the past 11 years. This indicates that preventive measures, such as the national control programme and elimination of footrot from affected flocks, have been effective. A single lamb (0.2%) was found with a CODD lesion (grade 1). In Sweden, benign rather than virulent strains of D. nodosus seem to be the most common. Neither D. nodosus nor F. necrophorum were widespread among Swedish slaughter lambs, but both were more likely to be found in lambs with footrot. Treponema spp. was very commonly found in lambs with and without footrot, but there is a lack of information on the individual Treponema spp. present in Swedish slaughter lambs and their potential pathogenicity.


Abattoir; CODD; Dichelobacter nodosus; Fusobacterium necrophorum; Real-time PCR; Swab samples; Treponema species

Published in

Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica
2022, Volume: 64, number: 1, article number: 6
Publisher: BMC