Concerns over increased cattle disease

26 Aug, 2016 02:00 AM
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One farmer lost 23 cows and 30 calves this year alone - that is a value of $120,000.

CATTLE producers in the Denmark, Walpole, Scott River, Capel and east of Albany areas have seen increased levels of bovine anaemia and theileria in cattle herds.

Bovine anaemia due to theileria orientalis group (BATOG) was first detected in WA in 2013 and has been present in eastern Australia for many years, according to the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA).

BATOG is transmitted by bush ticks and causes disease in cattle, in particular around calving, but does not have any market access or human health implications.

Animals that have not been previously exposed to the disease are most affected but many develop immunity in following years and production losses diminish.

To date, eight cases of BATOG have been diagnosed in 2016 in WA by private and DAFWA vets and diagnostic laboratory services, down from 23 in 2015, 11 in 2014 and five in 2013.

WAFarmers policy executive officer Kim Haywood said she has recently become aware of six WA beef producers losing cattle and have had higher than normal abortion mortality rates.

"One farmer lost 23 cows and 30 calves this year alone," she said.

"That is a value of $120,000."

Dr Jenny Cotter, DAFWA, said BATOG was caused by a parasite causing damage to the red blood cells of cattle, which is transmitted to cattle by bush ticks.

For BATOG to occur, both the bush tick and the parasite need to be present.

"The parasite may cause disease particularly in young cattle or around calving, but it does not have any market access or human health implications," Dr Cotter said.

Signs of BATOG include anaemia, weakness, abortions and deaths in young cattle.

DAFWA has recommended that all producers report livestock abortions or higher than normal deaths to a vet to rule out any threat to WA's livestock industries or to human health.

There are no drugs registered in Australia for treating BATOG and antibiotics for acute cases have generally been ineffective.

Producers are recommended to provide easy access to food and water, protection from the cold and treatment for worms, lice and other concurrent diseases and contact a vet if cattle show signs of being affected.

More information: agric.wa.gov.au or contact a local DAFWA vet.

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