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There are many diseases that can affect the health of your herd. Some of the more common diseases include:
Hemorrhagic Bowel Syndrome (HBS)
Hemorrhagic Bowel Syndrome is a fatal disease who’s true cause is still undetermined. However, HBS has been linked to an overgrowth of Clostridium type A bacteria that is normally found in the intestinal tract of cattle and the presence of Aspergillus fumigatus, a fungus which is found everywhere in the environment. HBS appears when the amount of one or both of these becomes too great. The lining of the intestinal tract becomes irritated and begins to bleed. A large blood clot will form in the intestines, and toxins from the bacteria and fungus will poison the animal. Typically, HBS occurs in high producing, lactating cows under stress however, HBS has also occurred in dry cows on several farms. There is also the possibility cows fed high levels of grain who then develop acidosis may be at a higher risk for developing HBS.
Clinically, the cow will suddenly drop in milk production and go off-feed. She will also start to bloat, walk slowly or wobble. In advanced cases, the cow will be down and if she has manure, it may contain clumps of digested blood resembling grape jelly. Currently there is no effective treatment for HBS. Using electrolytes, flunixamine maleate, and oral kaolin does seem to help the comfort of the cow and a few have survived. The University of Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Teaching hospital has done surgery with slight success.
Prevention seems to be the only way to reduce the likelihood of experiencing HBS. A commercial vaccine ia available that seems to reduce the number of cases of HBS. More commonly, herds affected with HBS are using one of several feed additives that help to “bind” the fungus from being absorbed by the cow. Omnigen AF is a commercially available product designed to specifically assist with HBS problems. Others that are available include MTB 100.
Johnes is a contagious, non-treatable bovine disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis. This bacteria infects the lining of the intestinal tract and, after a 2-5 year incubation period, will cause chronic weight loss associated with intermittent or constant watery diarrhea. This diarrhea is a source of infection for the rest of the animals exposed to it. Another common way for cattle to be infected is from the colostrums given at birth. Therefore, identifying the infected cattle may be useful so colostrum replacers can be used to stop the spread of the disease and ultimately reduce the overall level of infection within a herd. Our veterinarians can assist in developing a herd risk assessment and management plan that includes testing to identify if, and at what level, Johnes disease is present in your herd.
Toxic Mastitis is an udder infection caused by one of the many gram negative bacteria that can cause mastitis. In this particular case, the bacteria itself releases a toxin that becomes absorbed into the blood stream and “poisons” the cow. Clinically, watery mastitis is seen with either a normal or subnormal temperature. The cow may be wobbly or down and the manure may be watery and yellowish in color. Treatment for toxic mastitis includes treating the affected quarter with an approved intra-mammary mastitis tube and providing the cow large doses of intravenous electrolytes. Flunixamine maleate also helps the cow by “binding” some of the toxins and making her feel better. Oral electrolytes or access to fresh water should also be provided. The key to treatment is to provide as much fluids as possible to flush the toxins from the cow. The use of systemic antibiotic will probably not help very much. Vaccinating your whole herd with J-Vac will assist in reducing the occurrence and severity of toxic mastitis.