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Beware of these new livestock diseases

The sale and movement of cattle due to extreme weather conditions nationwide could lead to livestock health problems not normally seen in the Dakotas, warns Charlie Stoltenow North Dakota State University Extension Service veterinarian.

Potential health problems include anaplasmosis, red water disease and babesiosis. Anaplasmosis usually is caused by a blood parasite and is not contagious between animals. It usually is transmitted by a tick.

The ticks that carry anaplasmosis can overwinter in North Dakota. Other biting insects, such as mosquitoes, horse flies and stable flies, also can transmit anaplasmosis. Calves can be infected with the disease but are much more resistant than older cattle. Because the parasite destroys red blood cells, anemia is the classic symptom.

Red water disease is caused by Leptospira, a bacterial pathogen. Leptospirosis is transmitted from animal to animal (and to humans) by contact with Leptospira in contaminated urine, feed and water. The Leptospira pathogen associated with red water causes the destruction of red blood cells and the release of hemoglobin, which is flushed from the animal’s body through the urine, hence the name red water. Leptospira can survive in North Dakota.

Babesiosis, or Texas fever, is very rare in the U.S., and a program is under way along the U.S.- Mexico border to control it. Babesiosis is caused by blood parasites.

Babesiosis is transmitted by Boophilus ticks. Boophilus ticks cannot survive North Dakota winters, but cattle can be infected with the disease elsewhere before being brought into the state.

Signs in cattle include a high fever (105 degrees F and above), anemia, hemoglobinuria (brown urine) and staggering.

Be observant

“It is important for veterinarians and livestock owners to be observant and vigilant,” Stoltenow says. “Livestock owners are encouraged to contact their veterinarian right away if an animal is exhibiting signs of illness.”

He also recommends only purchasing and moving animals with known health backgrounds.

Source: NDSU

This article published in the September, 2011 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.