Veterinarians are urging cattle producers to protect themselves and their stock against the deadly zoonotic disease, leptospirosis, during National Farm Safety Week starting today.
The President of the Australian Veterinary Association, rural vet Dr Ben Gardiner, said leptospirosis can be a big threat to Australian cattle, particularly during wet weather as the bacteria can flourish in moist paddocks.
“Graziers need to take preventative measures. Vaccination of their herd is the safest and most cost effective way of protecting livestock and themselves against this disease,” he said.
“Producers should also take precaution to protect themselves and their staff, as leptospirosis can also spread to humans. The disease in humans is a moderate to severe illness with ‘flu-like’ symptoms, which can later develop into more serious conditions including meningitis,” Dr Gardiner said.
The bacteria is spread through urine and bodily fluids and can survive in stagnant water for several weeks. Infected cattle may present with fever, abortions or the birth of weak or stillborn calves.
The good news for graziers is that they can easily protect themselves, their staff and their herds through the use of vaccines specially designed for cattle which prevent the cattle becoming a source of infection.
“The risk can also be greatly reduced by adopting good hygiene practices as a matter of routine and taking increased precautions around any sick cattle such as wearing gloves,” Dr Gardiner said.
“It’s important to wash your hands and equipment with soap and water regularly, before, during and after handling all cattle and minimise contact with your cow if it is unwell.”
Farmers should speak with their local vet about preventing lepto and other zoonotic diseases, including the precautions they can take to minimise spread of the infection through their cattle herd.
- National Farm Safety Week, from 16-21 July, is held to raise awareness of farm safety issues across Australia.
HAVE YOUR SAY