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Contagious Ecthyma (Sore Mouth)

Sore Mouth is a virus usually seen in sheep and goats but can spread very easily to humans. It is a very contagious disease. It is also known as Orf virus and scabby mouth.


How can I get sick? 

  • Getting the virus in an open cut or sore while touching a sick animal or touching tools that have the virus on them.  
  • Shearing goats or sheep. 
  • Bottle feeding or tube feeding an animal. 
  • Handling equipment that has the virus on it such as a harness or halter.  
  • Being bitten by a sick animal. 
  • Getting the virus in an open cut or sore while harvesting* a wild sheep or goat.  

This disease is not spread from human to human

Symptoms in humans: 

Blisters or Sores: 

  • Blisters or sores can show up on fingers, hands, or forearms.  
  • Blisters start small and then become bigger and break open. 
  • Blisters go through six stages with each stage lasting up to a week.  
  • The blisters can be painful and range from 2cm- 5cm in size.  

Other symptoms:  

  • Mild fever (when your body gets a little hotter than normal) 
  • Feeling tired 
  • Swelling of lymph nodes 

Symptoms in Animals: 

Sores will appear on the mouth, muzzle and lips of sheep or goats. Sores will start as blisters but then develop scabs. Sheep and goats may have sores on their legs or teats especially when they have a nursing lamb or kids who are sick with the virus.  

What can I do to stay healthy?  

  • Wear latex or non-porous gloves when handling an animal who is showing symptoms.  
  • Wear latex or non-porous gloves when handling animals, wool, or hides while you have an open cut or wound.  
  • Wear gloves when giving Orf vaccines to animals. 
  • Wear gloves while harvesting* a wild sheep or goat, especially if you have a cut or open sore.  

  • Wash your hands after being around an animal that has the virus or it’s equipment.  
    • Proper HandwashingWash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to scrub your thumbs, between your fingers and the tops and bottoms of your hands. Dry your hands with a paper towel.                            



  • Harvesting an animal: The process of removing an animal to be used for meat or fur.

Learn About Other Diseases

Click below to learn more about the many different diseases that can spread between animals and humans.