Livestock producers should be on the lookout for cattle disease

  • Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 10:13 a.m.
    UPDATED: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 10:14 a.m.

RALEIGH – Two cattle herds in North Carolina have been confirmed positive recently for anaplasmosis at the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Rollins Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. Anaplasmosis is an infectious disease that causes red blood cells to be removed from circulation, resulting in fever, severe anemia and even death. Cows from both herds have died. An additional herd is awaiting confirmation, which would make this the 12th herd to be confirmed in North Carolina this year. Eight cases were reported in 2012. The herds are located in Granville, Duplin and Person counties.

Anaplasmosis is commonly found throughout the country and is spread by ticks, insect bites, and the sharing of contaminated needles and instruments contaminated with blood. It is more prevalent in the fall and mainly affects adult cattle, although any age can be affected. Clinical symptoms are those typical of severe anemia, including lethargy, loss of appetite, muscle tremors or weakness, pale gums, labored breathing and dry muzzle. The disease can also affect sheep and goats, but is not a threat to humans.

State Veterinarian David Marshall recommends that cattle owners contact their veterinarians if any of these symptoms are noticed. “If severe anemia sets in, any stress on the animal could result in death,” Marshall said. “The sooner the disease is diagnosed and treated, the better for the herd.” The disease is fatal in about 30 percent of cattle who contract the disease.

Marshall encourages producers to consult with their veterinarian on a plan to diagnose and treat a herd if anaplasmosis is suspected. NCDA&CS Veterinary Division field personnel are available to assist producers and veterinarians as needed in diagnosing and eliminating the disease from a herd.

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