Dairy Farming Manual
|What is disease and how does it affect you?
1 Disease is a change in your animal which can
| What types of disease are there? (14-16)
2 There are diseases caused by:
|What are the more important conditions/diseases?
3 There are several important conditions/diseases
you should know about.
DISEASES AFFECTING DAIRY CATTLE AND BUFFALO
Husbandry Unit 10.1:
Note: Numbers in brackets refer to illustrations in the Extension Materials.
Disease is broadly defined as an alteration (or a disturbance) in the structure or function of any organ or part of the body. Diseases reduce the productivity of animals and may even result in their death. Thus there will be losses from the farming enterprise. (4-13)
|4 Disease is a
or disturbance in any organ or part of the body.
|5 It lowers production and may cause death|
|6 in people as well as in animals.|
It is common to consider diseases based on how they are caused. Infectious diseases caused by micro-organisms (e.g. bacteria and viruses) and parasitic diseases caused by various types of worms and insects receive much attention because of the possible transmission from animals to man, from one animal to another in a herd or even from animals in one herd to those in others. However, diseases resulting from metabolic, anomalous and traumatic conditions also deserve prompt attention to minimise losses.
Some important diseases affecting dairy cattle and buffalo in the region are:
Bacteria: Anthrax, Black Quarter, Brucellosis, Haemorrhagic Septicaemia, Johne's Disease, Mastitis, Tuberculosis
Viral: Foot and Mouth Disease, Rinderpest
Parasitic: These are of several types:
- Ectoparasites e.g. lice, ticks and mites
- Endoparasites e.g. worms in alimentary tract and lungs and protozoan parasites in blood. (15)
Metabolic: Bloat, Ketosis (Acetonaemia), Milk Fever, poisoning (16)
Anomalous: Dystokia, prolapsed uterus/vagina, retained placenta
Traumatic: Various types of external and internal injuries (some of which may become infected with microorganisms or invaded by maggots subsequently)
There are a large number of diseases
and conditions that can affect dairy cattle/buffalo. Their incidence
and economic importance vary from country to country. Some of the
more important ones are discussed below (in alphabetical order).
|7 While your animal is
sick, it has lower:
- weight gain
- milk yield
|8 Your sick animal can pass the disease on to other animals.|
|9 You and your family can catch
infectious diseases from sick animals and then you cannot work.
|10 You must pay for treatment.|
|11 Your animal may die.|
|12 If your animal gets better, it may still have lower production.|
|13 To save money, you must
prevent and control disease.
|14 There are many types of
Some come from micro-organisms:
|15 Some come from
(See H.10.6 Parasites)
|16 Some diseases come from:
- body problems
- food problems
Anthrax is an acute infectious disease of all warm blooded animals including man. It is caused by a large bacillus called Bacillus anthracis, which is capable of forming spores on exposure to air. The spores can survive for many years in the soil.
The disease is found worldwide, but is more common in tropical countries.
The bacteria can enter the body through a wound or may be inhaled or ingested.
In many cases, an infected cow/buffalo is found dead suddenly, usually with a bloody discharge from the nose and anus, but without any previous signs of illness.
In other cases, the characteristic features are sudden onset, high fever, difficult breathing, staggering gait, extreme weakness and rapid death.
If an animal dies suddenly without any previous signs of disease (or after showing signs indicated above), anthrax should be suspected. As anthrax is a notifiable disease in many countries, such deaths or suspected cases should be reported to the government veterinarian.
No post mortem examination should be attempted. However, a blood smear should be taken from the ear or tail, as soon as possible after death. All precautions should be taken to prevent contamination of the surroundings. Persons handling this type of animal should wash themselves thoroughly thereafter and boil clothing for about 20 minutes before re-use.
Other precautionary measures to be taken are as follows:
- Carcasses of animals which have died or are suspected to have died of anthrax should be buried at least 1.8 m deep, covered with quick lime and the area fenced off.
- All infected material, soil and bedding etc should be burnt.
- All susceptible animals should be kept away from infected areas and vaccinated. Vaccination should be repeated annually at least for three years after the last case.
17 Anthrax is a bacterial disease which attacks all animals including man.
|18 Signs of Anthrax include:
- high fever
- difficulty in breathing
- difficulty in walking
- weakness and quick death.
|19 Sometimes there are no signs
animal dies suddenly with a bloody discharge from:
|20 Your animals can get Anthrax by contact
with the bacteria through:
- a wound
- breathing in dust
|21 Call your extension worker or vet as soon
He will take a blood smear.
|22 Try not to move the dead animal or let anything come into contact with it.|
|23 Bury carcasses at least 1.8 m deep.
Cover with quick lime and fence the area off.
|24 Burn soil, bedding and any materials
which come into contact with the dead animal.
| 25 Wash yourself carefully after
Boil your clothes for at least 20 minutes before reuse.
|26 Keep healthy animals away from infected
Vaccinate all animals once a year for 3 years after the last case of Anthrax.
Black-Quarter (also called Black-Leg or Quarter-Ill) (27-31)
This is an acute infectious disease of cattle, sheep and pigs, caused by a bacillus called Clostridium chauvoei. The bacteria are found in the soil and in the gut of normal animals, and may invade the body through a break in the skin or mucous membrane. They produce spores which are very resistant to heat and survive a long time in the soil.
The disease is widespread in tropical countries and affects mostly the young adult cattle of the age group 8-18 months old.
The affected animal is first noticed to be lame. This may be associated with a swelling over the upper part of the leg. The swelling spreads rapidly and crackles on touch, due to accumulation of gas under the skin. Other features are similar to anthrax.
Sometimes an animal may be found dead suddenly, without showing any previous signs.
If black-quarter is suspected, a blood smear from the swelling should be sent immediately for examination, which will be sufficient to differentiate it from anthrax.
In areas where the disease is reported, cattle between 6 months and 3 years of age should be vaccinated annually.
The carcasses of infected or suspected
animals should be dealt with as in anthrax.
|Black-Quarter (Also Black-Leg or Quarter-Ill)|
|28 Signs of Black-Quarter include:
- swellings on upper parts of legs which spread and crackle on touch owing to gas under the skin
- other signs similar to Anthrax.
|29 Young adult animals, 8-18 months old, most
often get the disease by contact through:
- wounds on the skin or mucous membranes.
| 30 Call your vet or extension worker.
He will take a blood smear from the swelling to assist diagnosis.
|31 Deal with carcasses and infected materials
as for Anthrax (See 23, 24).
In areas with disease, vaccinate animals between 6 months and three years of age each year.
This is a condition in which the rumen gets distended with gas that accumulates in it. Signs that can be observed include the swelling of the left side of the body between last rib and hip bone, uneasiness shown by stamping of the feet, frequent passing of small quantities of urine and dung, difficult, rapid breathing and slight protrusion of the tongue.
The animal may collapse and die suddenly if relief is not provided.
A handful (about 100 gm) of common laundry detergent powder put into the mouth or about 500 ml of a mineral oil e.g. peanut oil, linseed oil given as a drench, if the animal can swallow, may bring about relief. Sometimes it may become necessary to introduce a stomach tube or in most severe cases, even to introduce a trocar into the rumen through the left paralumbar fossa, which is best done by a vet. In an extreme situation, a farmer may use a sharp, pointed knife to pierce the rumen to prevent death.
Once bloat has been relieved,
the following practices are adopted to prevent its recurrence: walking
the animal; standing the animal with the forequarters elevated; and applying
a stick across the mouth to allow for the escape of excess gas.
|33 Signs of bloat include:
- tongue slightly out
- quick breathing
- swelling of left side of body between last rib and hip bone
- frequent passing of small amounts of dung and urine
- stamping of feet.
|34 You must act quickly or your animal
Put a handful of laundry detergent powder into the animal's mouth or give 500 ml of mineral oil (e.g. peanut or linseed oil) or 100 ml of turpentine to an adult animal as a drench.
|35 If your animal cannot swallow, you
may have to use a stomach tube.
|36 In areas where bloat is common, keep a trocar and cannula ready for use.|
|37 In an emergency you may have to pierce the rumen with a sharp pointed knife to prevent death.|
|38 After relieving bloat, you can
developing again by:
- walking your animal
- keeping the front part of your animal higher than the rear
- putting a stick across the mouth to let gas escape.
|Brucellosis see H.10.2|
"Downer" Cow (39-45)
This refers to a situation in which the cow lies down and does not get up. When she is urged to get up, she may make a feeble attempt but is unable or too depressed to try.
The situation may be a result of one or more of several conditions such as acetonaemia, milk fever, hypomagnesaemia, infectious and debilitating disease, severe intoxication or even an injury. The first three conditions are mostly observed in high milk producers.
Such a situation necessarily requires treatment by a vet. Certain steps that need to be taken before the arrival of the vet are:
- Tie the animal loosely with a rope which can be cut off easily if there is a danger of the cow being strangled from struggling.
- Tie the two hind legs together above the fetlock region, leaving a space of about 18 inches between them to prevent the cow spreading her legs apart and damaging her hips.
- Make the cow comfortable by providing dry bedding and if she is on a cement floor sprinkle some sawdust, sand or grit around the hind feet, to make it easier for her to stand without slipping.
A drench of treacle mixed with glucose may be helpful in the case of acetonaemia and can do no harm in other conditions, provided the animal can swallow.
It would be a good practice to collect all possible information such as the following and make it available to the vet on his arrival.
General health of the herd, current
production, reproduction status, nutrition, previous sickness and treatment,
vaccinations, any peculiarities noticed for the last few days and after
the cow went down should also be reported.
|40 Your animal lies down and does not
She may try, but is too weak or depressed.
|41 You must call the vet but while you
- tie your animal loosely with a rope which you can cut off if she struggles and is in danger of strangulating
- tie the hind legs together above the fetlocks leaving about 45 cm between them.
This prevents your animal spreading her legs and damaging her hips.
| 43 Make your animal comfortable
If on a cement floor, sprinkle sand, sawdust or grit around hind feet so your animal can stand up without slipping.
|44 If your animal can swallow, give a drench of treacle mixed with glucose.|
|45 Before the vet arrives, prepare information
- health of the herd, previous sickness, treatment and vaccinations
- the present production, reproduction and nutrition
- anything unusual you noticed after your animal went down.
|Foot and mouth Disease (FMD)see H.10.3|
|Haemorrhagic Septicemia (HS)see H.10.4|
Johne's Disease (46-49)
A chronic infectious disease of cattle and other ruminants caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium johneii. Cattle, sheep and goats are most commonly affected, but the disease is also reported in buffalo.
Infected animals lose condition and show reduced milk yield. A bubbly diarrhoea with a characteristic smell sets in. Diagnosis is difficult. The disease may be confirmed by laboratory examination of faecal specimens or pieces of affected gut wall.
There is no treatment. The best method of control is to slaughter infected animals and their calves.
Other control measures include:
- Strict maintenance of hygiene and proper disposal of infected faeces and bedding.
- Separate calves from adults in infected herds.
- Keep infected
pastures free from all ruminants for at least one year, preferably plant
the pastures to other crops.
| Johne's Disease
46 Johne's Disease is a bacterial disease which attacks cattle, sheep, goats and buffalo.
|47 Signs of Johne's Disease include:
- poor condition
- low milk yield
- bubbly diarrhoea with strong smell.
|48 Diagnosis is difficult so take a sample of the diarrhoea for your vet to check.|
|49 You cannot treat the disease.
Slaughter infected animals and deal with carcasses and materials as for Anthrax. (See 23, 24)
Keep calves separate and animals away from
infected areas for one year.
|Mastitis see H.10.5|
|Parasites see H.10.6|
Poisoning of cattle and buffalo can occur in many ways. They may graze on poisonous plants such as Bracken Fern or on roughage on which weedicides have been sprayed; they may drink kerosene oil or excessive amounts of salt solution by accident; they may be sprayed with or dipped in an insecticide solution with too high a concentration of insecticide; they may be given straw with too high a concentration of urea.
The first-aid measures depend on the cause of the poisoning. A diagnosis has to be made as to whether the symptoms are due to poisoning or any other disease, and if it is poisoning, as to the cause of poisoning.
In most cases of poisoning by vegetable poisons taken by mouth, absorption can be hindered by giving strong (boiled) black tea or coffee. However, the animal may need further vet attention.
Urea poisoning can be suspected if there is a history of urea feeding (especially straw treated with urea just prior to feeding) and symptoms appear within a few hours. The symptoms are frothing at the mouth, staggering, trembling, gasping and laboured breathing and convulsions in severe cases. Death may result within a few hours after the first symptoms.
A litre of vinegar is a good antidote
for urea poisoning, if given when first symptoms appear and the animal
is able to swallow.
50 Poisoning may result from feeding on:
- poisonous plants
- roughage sprayed with weedicide
- straw with too much urea
|51 or from:
- drinking oil or salt solution by accident
- spraying or dipping in too strong a solution of insecticide.
|52 Try to find the cause of poisoning.
For vegetable poisons, slow absorption by giving strong (boiled) black tea or coffee.
You may also need to call the vet.
| 53 If you feed urea and your animal is:
- frothing at the mouth
- trembling and staggering
- gasping with laboured breathing
- convulsions in bad cases
|54 your animal may have urea poisoning
and may die.
If your animal can swallow, give 1 l of vinegar as soon as symptoms appear.
Prolapse of the uterus (55-57)
This normally happens at calving. A huge red mass, dotted with large lumps "the cotyledons", is seen protruding out of the vulva after calving. This really is an alarming sight but can be corrected effectively in most cases. However, if extensive bruising and or tearing of the vagina has been caused, e.g. when attempting to pull the calf out, complications can result.
Seek vet intervention immediately.
Until the arrival of the vet, the following first aid measures should be adopted.
- Prevent injury to the prolapsed uterus by birds e.g. crows and dogs or by other cows trampling it.
- Remove dung and urine etc. on
and around the prolapse and, if possible, wrap the clean prolapse in a
clean blanket or gunny bag.
|Prolapse of the uterus|
|56 While you wait for your vet:
- make your animal comfortable and keep birds, dogs etc away
- remove dung and urine etc from on and around the prolapse
- wrap the clean prolapse in a clean blanket or gunny bag.
Prolapse of the vagina (58-61)
This is a condition that may affect cattle/buffalo towards the latter part of pregnancy. A part of the vagina protrudes from the vulva. In the first stages, the prolapse may be visible only when the animal is lying down, disappearing when it is in the standing position. Injury can be caused by the prolapsed vagina being dragged along the floor or by birds such as crows pecking at it. This must be prevented.
Some relief can be provided by
tying the animal so that the hind quarters are at a higher elevation, e.g.
the other way round in a normal standing. Seek vet advice if the
|58 In late pregnancy, a part of the vagina may come out from the vulva when your animal is lying down|
|59 Later, part of the vagina also appears when your animal is standing up.|
|60 Injury may come from:
- the prolapsed vagina dragging along the ground
- or by birds pecking at it.
You must prevent this.
|61 Tie your animal so the hind quarters
are higher than the fore quarters.
Call your vet if the vagina remains outside the vulva.
A highly infectious disease of cattle and buffalo and other cloven hooved animals, caused by a virus. The disease usually causes heavy mortality among affected animals. Presently it is found mainly in tropical areas.
Main symptoms include high temperature, loss of appetite, discharge from eyes and nose, coughing, diarrhoea, red patches in nostrils and mouth developing into shallow ulcers, loss of condition and death or recovery within 6-12 days. The recovered animals remain a source of infection to susceptible animals.
Post mortem examination shows an emaciated carcass, with the mouth, pharynx and vagina greatly inflamed and having rough areas covered by a membrane or even ulcers. The liver and spleen may be swollen and filled with blood. Congested areas and haemorrhages may be found in the intestinal and rectal walls.
Vaccination of susceptible animals
over 6 months of age and slaughter of infected animals are carried out
as preventive and control measures. There is no effective treatment.
62 Rinderpest is a virus disease which attacks cattle, buffalo and other animals with cloven hooves.
|63 Signs of Rinderpest include:
- high temperature and loss of appetite and condition
- discharge from eyes and nose
- red patches in nostrils and mouth, becoming
| 65 The animal dies or recovers within 6-12
After recovery, the animal is still infectious.
|66 You cannot treat Rinderpest.
Slaughter infected animals and deal with carcasses and materials as for Anthrax (See 23, 24).
There are two important diseases of domestic animals in more tropical and sub-tropical areas transmitted mainly by ticks of the Boophilus species. Temperate breeds of cattle are particularly susceptible to these diseases. Control is related to the control of ticks.
Bovine Babesiosis (Redwater Disease, Piroplasmosis, Tick Fever) (67-69)
This is caused by the protozoan parasites Babesia bigemona and Babesia bovis.
Symptoms are characterised by a sudden high temperature of 41 C (106 F) or higher. The animal stops eating and is dull with a staring coat. The mucous membranes become anaemic and may turn yellow later. The urine may turn red. If untreated, the animal becomes weak and may die within 2-3 days or the disease may become chronic with colic, diarrhoea and eventual death.
Diagnosis is confirmed by blood smears which show Babesia organisms.
The disease can be effectively
treated, if diagnosed early.
|Vaccinate animals over 6 months of age.
Tick-borne diseases (1)
|68 Signs of the disease include:
- high temperature, loss of appetite and dull, staring coat
- anaemic mucous membranes turning yellow
- red urine and diarrhoea.
| 69 Call your vet.
He will take a blood smear for diagnosis.
Your animal can recover if treated early.
Anaplasmosis (Gall Sickness) (70-72)
This is caused by a rickettsial parasite found in the red blood cells and transmitted by ticks. There are two forms of the disease; the more severe form is caused by Anaplasma marginale and the less severe form by Anaplasma centrale.
The body temperature rises to about 40 C but not as high as in babesiosis. Other symptoms are also less severe but the animals become weak and finally die, if untreated. The urine may become darkish yellow but not red as in babesiosis.
Diagnosis is confirmed by blood smears which show the presence of the parasite in the blood cells. Concurrent infection with babesia may confuse the diagnosis.
Early diagnosis and treatment
gives good results. However, relapses are sometimes found, necessitating
| Tick-borne diseases (2)
Anaplasmosis (Gall sickness)
|71 Signs include:
- high temperature
- dark yellow urine.
|72 Call your vet.
He will take a blood smear for diagnosis.
Animals can usually recover if treated early.
Animals sometimes get the disease again and need further treatment.
This is a chronic, infectious disease affecting all species of animals including man. It is present in most countries and is caused by a group of pathogenic mycobacteria. Cattle and buffalo are affected by the bovine type of tubercle bacilli.
Tuberculosis is economically of greatest importance in cattle, buffalo, pigs and camels.
Symptoms vary according to where the tuberculosis organism is located in the animal and the route through which infection took place.
- If infected by inhalation, the disease is most common in lungs; the animal develops a cough, gradually becomes thinner and eventually dies.
- If infected by mouth, the main lesions may be in the throat, intestines and udder.
However, the disease is often diagnosed only at meat inspection after slaughter, when tubercles of varying sizes and enlarged lymph nodes are found.
The diagnosis is confirmed by the laboratory examination of a piece of infected tissue.
In the live animal, the tuberculin test is used for diagnosis. This test is best performed by a vet.
Treatment of infected animals
should not be attempted. Effective means of control are to test the
herds regularly every 6-12 months and to remove all reactors immediately
for slaughter. In this way, a healthy herd can be built up from an
|74 Signs include:
- lesions in mouth and throat
- weight loss
and possible death.
|75 You must call the vet for diagnosis and you should not try to treat your animals.|
|76 You can control Tuberculosis by:
- having your herd tested every 6-12 months
- slaughtering any animals with Tuberculosis.
A wound is a disturbance in the continuity of a tissue in the body e.g. a damage to the skin, muscle or both. The extent of damage may vary from a simple bruise to a severe laceration or even the severing off of an organ or a part of an organ.
First aid measures involve action to encourage arrest of bleeding, cleaning of wound and keeping it clean, preventing entry of dirt etc. A very important measure is to prevent insects such as flies laying their eggs on a wound because the fly larvae normally penetrate into the tissues causing extensive damage and recovery may be considerably delayed even when treated.
Small cuts or bruises (78)
There will be no bleeding or slight bleeding which stops automatically.
Clean the wound of any dirt immediately, using an antiseptic solution. Dress with an antiseptic/fly repellent at least once a day or as directed by the vet or indicated in the literature. Margosa oil has been used extensively in some countries because of its dual action as an antiseptic and a fly repellent. There are several proprietary preparations providing similar action and some others which can be used to destroy fly larvae (maggots).
|78 For small wounds:
- clean with antiseptic solution
- apply antiseptic/fly repellent at least once a day or as your vet says e.g. Margosa oil.
|79 For larger wounds, you must
bleeding till the vet arrives:
- press wound with hands till someone can bring a clean cloth
- keep the clean cloth pressed tightly over the wound for about 15 minutes.
You may use a bandage.
When there are more extensive injuries there can be profuse bleeding. In this situation, the following procedure can be adopted, until vet arrives.
Apply direct pressure on the wound with fingers or palm while someone else brings a clean pillowslip, small towel or a piece of sheet which can be used as a pressure pad. Keep the pad over the wound and hold it firmly for about 15 minutes. It may even be bandaged to keep in place.
If these measures fail to stop bleeding, a tourniquet may be applied, using a piece of rubber tubing or a soft rope. It is not very easy to determine whether an artery or a vein has been damaged. A tourniquet may therefore be applied above the wound to prevent any blood flowing from the heart towards the wound. If the bleeding increases, it should be loosened and applied on the other side of the wound. A tourniquet should never be kept on for more than 20 minutes. Its release should be gradual to prevent a sudden rush of blood towards the wound. The tourniquet may be applied again for a similar period after a few minutes, if the bleeding continues.
An attempt to clean and treat such a wound may be made only by an experienced person, preferably a vet. In addition to dressing the wound, application of sutures and administration of antibiotics etc. may be necessary.
| 81 If you cannot stop the bleeding,
use a piece of rubber tubing or soft rope as a tourniquet.
First place the tourniquet above the wound.
|82 If the bleeding increases, place the tourniquet on the other side of the wound.|
|83 After 20 minutes gradually release
the tourniquet and leave for a few minutes.
If bleeding continues, apply the tourniquet again.
|84 Call your vet to clean and treat large wounds.