Women who are, or who may be, pregnant are potentially at risk of acquiring certain infectious diseases from pregnant livestock including sheep. Pregnant women who come into close contact with sheep during lambing may risk their own health and that of their unborn child, from infections which can occur in some ewes.
These include chlamydiosis (enzootic abortion of ewes – EAE), toxoplasmosis and listeriosis, which are common causes of abortion in ewes, and Q fever. Although these infections are uncommon and the number of human pregnancies affected by contact with sheep is extremely small, it is important that pregnant women are aware of the potential risks.
31 December 2012: Defra press release - advice to pregnant women during lambing [external link]
19 December 2012: All information on infection risks during lambing season updated. See the General Information page and links in Related Information for more details.