The 4 Worst Sheep Diseases that Cause Diarrhea (and How to Treat Them)

Diarrhea in sheep can be severe, especially if the cause of diarrhea can’t be identified or treated correctly. Here are four of the most common diarrhea-causing diseases that affect sheep, as well as how to treat each one!

1) Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a disease caused by the parasite coccidia. It primarily affects sheep, but it can also affect other livestock and even humans. There are two types of coccidia, one type infects the intestines, and the other infects the liver. The infection causes diarrhea in both cases. Symptoms of coccidia include stomach pain, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, and dehydration. Coccidiosis can be treated with antibiotics or a special diet if caught early on.

2) Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacteria found in the intestines of humans and animals. It can be transmitted from one animal or person to another through contact with infected feces, contaminated water or food, or by handling infected animals. Symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea and fever. Symptoms usually start within 12-72 hours after exposure and can last up to a week. The illness usually subsides without treatment, but antibiotic therapy may be necessary if the person has a weakened immune system or other health problems. In rare cases, severe diarrhea may lead to dehydration and kidney failure. If you suspect salmonella infection in your sheep, consult your veterinarian for advice on treating it.

3) Cryptosporidiosis

Cryptosporidiosis is a stomach parasite found in sheep and goats. It is spread by the fecal-oral route, which means animals ingest the microscopic parasite eggs or larvae and then pass them on through their droppings. When an animal eats these eggs, they hatch inside the intestine and cause diarrhea. 

Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include watery, non-bloody diarrhea; fever; loss of appetite; vomiting; abdominal pain or cramps; dehydration; muscle aches and joint pain. If left untreated, cryptosporidiosis can lead to death from dehydration or complications such as liver failure.

4) Rotavirus

Many sheep diseases cause diarrhea, but rotavirus is the most common and is also the most fatal. It’s a virus spread through fecal matter and can be transmitted quickly. The symptoms of rotavirus are acute watery diarrhea, fever, lack of appetite, and dehydration. Treatment for rotavirus includes antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections, IV fluids for hydration, and probiotics to help with gut health. You should call your vet if you notice these symptoms in your flock, as treatment must start quickly, or else death may ensue.

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