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Subsidised diagnostic service for barren ewes


With sheep scanning well underway in many parts of the country, farmers running a flock with a barren rate greater than 2% can now ask for a subsidised flock blood test to establish whether the cause of the problem is toxoplasmosis.

Barren EweCheck the diagnostic scheme supported by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health is available from vets from 1st December 2010 until 31st March 2011. Producers concerned about empty or aborting ewes should talk to their vet about the service as soon as possible.

Toxoplasmosis is the main infectious cause of early embryo loss in sheep and a very common cause of barrenness, abortion and weak lambs born alive. Data from the 2010 Barren EweCheck and FlockCheck schemes showed that 86% of the flocks tested had been exposed to the toxoplasma parasite.

Toxoplasma is an environmental contaminant spread by infected cats, points out Jennifer OConnor MRCVS from Intervet/Schering-Plough. This means all flocks are at risk because it only takes one brief visit by an infected cat to contaminate the whole farm. The good news is that where toxoplasma infection has been confirmed in a flock the disease can be controlled effectively by a vaccination regime. Whats more, the costs of a prevention programme can be easily covered by a reduction in future flock barren rates.

Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health expects Toxovax to be back in stock early in the New Year and anticipates full vaccine availability in 2011. Farmers are reminded, however, that the vaccine can only be used in non-pregnant ewes, at least three weeks prior to tupping.

About Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health
Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, based in Boxmeer, the Netherlands, is focused on the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of animal health products. The company offers customers one of the broadest, most innovative animal health portfolios, spanning products to support performance and to prevent, treat and control disease in all major farm and companion animal species. Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health; subsidiaries of Merck & Co. Inc., Whitehouse Station NJ, USA. For more information, visit

About Merck
Today’s Merck is working to help the world be well. Through our medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer and animal products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching programs that donate and deliver our products to the people who need them. Merck. Be Well. For more information, visit

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