Highly infectious diseases blamed for rise in calf deaths
CATTLE producers on the Northern Rivers are seeing a rise in reproductive losses, attributed to outbreaks of highly infectious, but preventable, diseases.
The North Coast Local Land Service's district veterinarian, Dr Elizabeth Bolin, said the diseases were affecting a number of commercial beef properties in the region.
"There are three diseases identified as causing major losses to production at the moment include pestivirus, vibriosis and neosporosis, and we are advising cattle producers to be aware of the symptoms and options available for treatment and control," she said.
Pestivirus (Bovine viral diarrhoea virus) causes a variety of syndromes, ranging from early embryonic loss to abortions, to the birth of weak or deformed calves.
Dr Bolin said infection could lead to the birth of persistently infected calves.
"These persistently infected animals, or PI's as they are sometimes referred to, shed large amounts of the virus, and, unless identified and removed, contribute to the disease circulating within and between herds," she said.
Pestivirus can be controlled using vaccination, test-and-cull protocols to identify and remove PI animals and improved biosecurity practices.
Vibriosis (Campylobacteriosis) is a bacterial disease of cattle that can be spread in herds where natural matings occur.
Generally non immune cows become infected after being mated by an infected bull.
Herds affected by this disease can experience a range of outcomes including, increased returns to service, low pregnancy testing percentages and occasionally abortions.
There is an effective Vibrio Vaccine available in Australia.
Neosporosis (or "Wild Dog Abortion"), is a protozoal cause of abortion, stillbirth and the birth of weak, or, abnormal calves.
Cattle can become infected by either ingesting the infective stage of the organism (oocyst) in canine faeces or, through an infected cow passing the infection on to her calf in utero.
Strategies to minimise the spread of neospora include wild dog and fox control on your property, ensuring that domestic dogs don't have access to afterbirth or aborted foetuses and regular pregnancy testing to ensure that problems are detected early.