Producers urged to be on alert for three-day-sickness

Beef Central, 11/03/2013

Cattle producers along the eastern coast and some central areas of NSW are being urged to be on the alert for signs of three day sickness in their stock. 

With the large rainfalls recorded over recent weeks mosquitoes are on the increase, meaning more outbreaks of the insect-spread disease are expected.

Also known as Bovine Ephemeral fever, three day sickness is a virus which can have debilitating effects on cattle.

“In January we confirmed three day sickness in cattle near Kempsey, and now cases have been confirmed at Taree, Gloucester and Maitland, so it’s definitely one to look out for,” said Livestock Health and Pest Authority Senior District Veterinarian Ian Poe. 

“Older animals which have been exposed to the virus previously should be immune, but younger cows are particularly susceptible”.

An earlier report of the disease from farmers on the far north coast of NSW saw the first case confirmed by laboratory testing in late November 2012. Since then the disease has occurred on many north coast farms and not just in younger stock.

“A greater number of cattle were affected this season including four year-old cows in some north coast herds, which is probably due to quieter seasons in previous years. Some cattle deaths did occur and the disease continues to be reported in that area,” said Dr Poe. 

Symptoms of three day sickness include fever, lameness, drooling, depression and recumbency. The disease can also cause a temporary reduction in fertility in bulls as an effect of the fever on sperm production.

“As the name of the disease suggests, symptoms generally last for around three days, although some cows take longer to recover and sometimes death may occur,” said Dr Poe.

He said that while there is no specific treatment for three day sickness, farmers need to ensure affected animals have plenty of water, feed and shade available. Producers with affected stock should also discuss supportive treatments such as anti-inflammatories with their veterinarian.

“While a vaccine is available to protect against three day sickness, for best protection it needs to be given before the virus is active in an area. However some producers may elect to vaccinate in the face of an outbreak, especially valuable animals, but they should be aware that it may not be completely protective in this situation”.

For more information about three day sickness or if you suspect your cattle may have the disease, please contact your local LHPA or private veterinarian.

Source: Livestock Pest and Health Authority


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