Inadvertent intrathecal injection of Gudair vaccine leading to recumbency and ataxia in replacement gimmers: a case of 'OJD staggers in North East England

26 Sep 2018

Strugnell, B. W., Wessels, M., Reynolds, M., Brown, P.

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Five of 730 replacement gimmers in a 5000-ewe crossbred flock presented with progressive ataxia and recumbency over a two-week period. On gross postmortem examination, there was spinal cord compression and large fibrogranulomatous masses in the spinal canal of two lambs. Histological examination of one mass and the adjacent tissues revealed chronic active necrotising and granulomatous inflammation with acid-fast bacilli and severe granulomatous osteomyelitis, respectively. PCR of the mass was positive for Mycobacterium aviumsubspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). Lambs had been injected six weeks previously with a Johne’s disease vaccine (Gudair, Merial Animal Health). Gross and histological findings unequivocally suggest an intrathecal injection; the acid-fast bacilli and PCR-positive result for MAP confirm that the maladministration of vaccine was the cause of the pathology. Great care must be taken when injecting sheep in the neck region to avoid iatrogenic damage. Clinical signs may manifest some weeks or months after injection.