Botulism cases confirmed near Longreach

Beef Central, 20/12/2012

Livestock producers are urged to check their cattle for signs of botulism following confirmed cases near Longreach, Winton and Aramac.

Biosecurity Queensland Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Inspector Nicole Restelli said climatic conditions were contributing to the recent cases.

"Recent confirmed cases of botulism have been found in areas where it doesn´t usually occur. All producers should monitor their herds for symptoms and take appropriate preventative measures.

Symptoms of botulism include:

  • ascending muscular paralysis starting at the hind legs and extending forward to the jaw and throat
  • staggering, knuckling over, inability to rise, laying down with head outstretched or turned to the flank
  • paralysis progresses until the muscles of respiration fail and death occurs in one to six days after illness starts.
  • Ms Restelli said that there is no known treatment for botulism, so control and prevention is essential.

"Prompt diagnosis and control measures can help bring the situation under control," Ms Restelli said.

"If livestock owners suspect botulism is the cause of disease in stock, it is important they seek immediate assistance from a veterinarian as the disease can result in significant losses over a short period of time.

Ms Restelli said producers were urged to take preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of outbreaks in their herds.

"Botulism is caused by livestock ingesting a toxin that is produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria which can be found in decaying animal and vegetable matter," Ms Restelli said.

"Animals are likely to eat decaying matter when there is a deficiency of phosphorus and protein in the feed that is available and when feed quality and quantity declines.

"Producers can deter botulism outbreaks in their herds by preventing stock having access to animal carcasses, controlling vermin and pest animals, and providing nutritional supplements of protein and phosphorus to reduce bone chewing.

"Taking care with harvest and storage of feeds to reduce the possibility of small animals contaminating feeds and checking water sources regularly are also recommended.

"Vaccination programs are essential in endemic areas and are the best form of protection for livestock," she said.

Botulism is a fatal neurological disease that affects cattle and other species of animals such as sheep and horses. If you suspect your livestock are infected with botulism, you should immediately report your concerns to 13 25 23 (business hours) or 1800 675 888 (after hours) and seek veterinary advice. For more information on botulism, visit or call 13 25 23. For more information on general principles, strategies and practices for feeding phosphorus to beef cattle, visit and download the Phosphorus management of beef cattle in northern Australia manual.

Source: QDAFF


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