Your curious American customs never fail to amaze and intrigue!
December 8, 2011, 3:05 PM ET
CDC: Castrating Lambs With Your Teeth May Make You Sick
At first, we thought this week’s issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and
Mortality Report was utterly run-of-the-mill.
We skimmed a report on leisure-time activity among adults with and
without arthritis and an update on flu activity before we were stopped
in our tracks by something we’d never seen before: a case report on
Campylobacter jejuni infections contracted by two people working on a
sheep ranch, apparently because they used their teeth to castrate some
C. jejuni is frequently transmitted by fecal-oral contact or consuming
contaminated food or water. And infections are commonly associated with
eating poultry or unpasteurized dairy products, the report notes.
But these two workers didn’t report consuming those food items. Nor did
they share food or water. Their common bond: of the 12 people who worked
to castrate and dock tails of 1,600 lambs at a Wyoming sheep ranch in
June, they were the only two who reported using their teeth as
And, during the event, “a few lambs reportedly had a mild diarrheal
illness,” the report says. C. jejuni was later isolated in two lambs.
The men, too, came down with diarrhea, and one also suffered from
abdominal cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting. One was hospitalized for a
day; both fully recovered. Lab testing suggested the infection by C.
jejuni was from a common source.
The ranch owners and employees, the MMWR notes, were advised to use
standard methods for castrating the lambs — not including the teeth.
Kerry Pride, an author of the report and veterinarian, tells us via
email that “this method has and does occur.” It was more common in the
1800s, but still goes on, Pride says, speaking for herself and not the