This fact sheet was developed by students enrolled in Purdue's ANSC 442 Sheep Management course in Spring 1998, as a semester project. These fact sheets provide useful information on various topics related to sheep. View the list of fact sheets.
This webpage is designed as a project for sheep management class. Even though I probably won't have everything there is to know about club lamb fungus on this site, I hope that it is helpful in educating about this disease.
Club lamb fungus is an ovine ringworm caused by a dermatophyte. It was first noticed in show lambs in 1989. This disease is also known as "lumpy wool", "wool rot", or ovine dermatophytosis. The fungi that cause club lamb fungus grow on tissues containing keratin.
Infection begins when spores from the fungus enter the skin and start to grow. Washing and shearing remove lanolin that helps protect the sheep's skin. Lanolin is a natural body oil found on sheep. Nicks and cuts from shearing allow the fungus to enter the skin and begin infection.
Infection is characterized by hairless, scaly lesions. These begin as spots and expand up to 2 inches in diameter 2 to 4 weeks after infection. The lesions are typically found on the face and ears of open-faced sheep and appear as hairless, scaly spots. When located on the body they look like matted areas in the fleece. The infected portion of the fleece is below the skin. These pustules appear ulcerated if the scabs and wool are removed. Because of the presence of open sores, secondary bacterial infections are common. If left untreated, the sheep will experience spontaneous recovery between 8 and 16 weeks.
This is a contagious disease. The fungus spores remain viable and infectious for several years even when not on a host. Thus, ovine ringworm can be transmitted by direct and indirect contact. People can also contract this disease. Unfortunately it is typical for the symptoms of animal diseases to be more severe when caught by a human. (See a doctor if you think you might have ovine dematophytosis)
There really is no specific treatment for club lamb fungus. It is helpful to isolate the infected sheep so that it won't pass the disease to healthy ones. The infected areas can be treated with general anti-fungal medicines to reduce spreading. Using fungicide stops the fungus from being infectious to other animals if they happen to come into contact with some of the spores. Topical and oral treatments may also be used to help control growth, but not necessarily cure the disease. Remembering to disinfect grooming tools, clothes, and pens will help to reduce the spread of infection. Allowing the disease to run its course is currently the only way to cure it.