A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my fear that one of my ewes might have a serious burden of intestinal parasites. By the end of the day, I was pretty sure that I had misinterpreted what looked like edema in her jaw. However, she has continued to cough, and lately seems to be laboring to breathe. I wanted to check her fecal egg count (FEC, because everything needs intials) just to make sure she wasn’t in parasite trouble, and on Friday I finally caught her pooping. The test came back completely negative, but now I had a coughing ewe with no easy explanation for the cough.
One of the veterinarians I work with suggested that I start treating her with an antibiotic and see if she improves, so I gave her a dose of oxytetracycline (which I had on hand) on Saturday (apparently the injection stings fiercely; Matilda is no longer quite so calm in my presence). Today I gave her another antibiotic, Draxxin, that is supposed to remain in the lungs for up to 10 days.
I’m very much hoping that this ewe responds to the antibiotics, both for her own sake and the sake of the flock. If her pneumonia doesn’t respond, it suggests a viral cause, which is much scarier. Ovine Progressive Pneumonia (OPP, of course), a common cause of viral pneumonia in sheep, can infect an entire flock, and since it’s untreatable, can lead to the whole flock’s destruction to prevent further spread. Matilda’s cough does seem to have diminished since the first antibiotic dose, so I’m trying to be optimistic.