Vic cattle and producers at heightened Lepto risk

Jon Condon, 03/05/2012


Cattle veterinarians are urging Victorian livestock producers to take preventative measures to protect their cattle against disease outbreaks following the recent flooding.

Past president of Australian Cattle Vets Association, a special interest group of the Australian Veterinary Association, Dr Rob Bonanno, said the deadly livestock disease, leptospirosis, could threaten cattle as the bacteria can flourish in the moist paddocks and flooded regions seen recently in Victoria.

Producers should also be concerned for the health of their staff, themselves and others in contact with cattle, as lepto 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 Bonanno, who recently contracted leptospirosis himself, said the current moist and humid conditions were ideal for the spread of life-threatening livestock diseases across Victorian grazing areas.

“Diseases like lepto can spread through contaminated water and can have serious consequences for livestock, including reduced reproductive performance,” he said. 

“Controlling lepto is all about prevention. Vaccination is the safest and most cost-effective way of protecting livestock against this disease, particularly during this post-flood recovery period.”

The leptospirosis bacterium 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 livestock producers is that they can easily protect themselves, their staff and their herd through the use of vaccines specially designed for cattle which prevent their cattle becoming a source of infection,” Dr Bonanno said.

Good hygiene and use of personal protective equipment is important when working around cattle, in stagnant water or in areas affected by flooding.

Producers should speak with their vet about preventing lepto and the precautions they can take to minimise spread of the infection through their cattle herd.

  • Pfizer Animal Health’s vaccine product, Ultravac 7-in-1, is the only available vaccine carrying a prevention of human infection claim.


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