The high cost of sheep scab

17 Oct 2020

Nixon, E. J., Wall, R., Vineer, H. R., Stubbings, L.

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Sheep scab is a highly pathogenic, contagious disease caused by infestation with the mite Psoroptes ovis; after reintroduction in the UK over 50 years ago its incidence has increased exponentially and it is now a widespread and persistent problem, particularly in upland flocks.

We estimate that the true cost of scab to the sheep industry in Great Britain is within the range of £78–202 million per year

The cost of scab to the UK sheep industry was estimated to be £8 million per year in 2005.1 This figure has been cited more than 300 times; however, the data used in this estimate are outdated. Assuming the same within-farm prevalence of 15 per cent but using more up-to-date estimates of regional scab risk,2 flock numbers,3-5 costs of treatment and production losses6 in a spreadsheet model, we estimate...