Sheep Measles

Occasionally we hear of slaughter animals with sheep measles.  These are hard white cysts found in the muscle tissue of sheep or goats.  It is caused by the tapeworm (Cysticercus ovis).  Although there is no associated human health risk, blemishes in the meat can result in a carcass being downgraded or condemned.

The parasite requires both dogs and sheep to complete its life cycle.  Dogs ingest the tapeworm (called Taenia ovis in dogs) in contaminated meat and then spread infection via eggs in the faeces.  Sheep become contaminated after ingesting eggs as they graze.  The eggs then penetrate the gut wall and move to the muscles of sheep where they form cysts.


Regular worm treatment for dogs:

  • Monthly treatment with a wormer containing Praziquantel (e.g. Droncit)
  • Every third month this should be swapped for a treatment that contains ingredients active against other worms (e.g. Drontal)
  • All dogs that enter the property should be treated (i.e. pets, friends & family, other visitors such as hunters)
  • Join our worming programme and worm treatments will be posted out monthly.,


  • Freezing is most practical
  • Core meat temperature should be reduced to at least -10 degrees C for 10 days
  • Date meat when placing in the freezer so it is easily identified
  • Offal also needs to be frozen if being fed to dogs
  • Butcher fresh carcasses away from dogs so they cannot access fresh meat
  • Don't let dogs scavenge on sheep carcasses