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Dairy Farming Manual

Volume 5

Husbandry Unit 10.4

page 91

Extension Materials

What is HS? (5-7)

1 HS is a bacterial disease which attacks many animals but not people.

What are the signs of HS? (8-12)

2 The signs include:
- discharge
- swellings
- fever
- bloody diarrhoea.

How can your animals get HS? (13-19)

3 Many normal animals have the bacteria but show no signs.

Under stress, these animals show signs and pass large numbers of bacteria to infect other animals.

How can you treat, prevent and control HS? (20-22)

4 You should call the vet to advise you.


  page 93


Husbandry Unit 10.4: 

Technical Notes 

Note: Numbers in brackets refer to illustrations in the Extension Materials.

Introduction  (5-6)

This is an acute infectious disease of buffaloes and cattle of particular importance in Asia.  Buffalo are especially sensitive.  Goats, sheep, pigs and horses may also get the disease, whereas people are not affected.

Cause of disease  (7)

The disease is caused by a bacteria called Pasteurella Multocida.  The bacteria may be present in animals without causing disease.  Under some circumstances when the animals are weaker and more stressed than normal the bacteria multiply and disease suddenly appears.

page 94

 What is Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (HS)?

5 HS is a dangerous disease which can pass easily from one animal to another.

Which animals get HS?

6 HS attacks
- buffaloes (very sensitive)
- cattle
- goats
- sheep
- pigs
- horses.
It does not attack people.

What causes HS?

7 A bacteria Pasteurella Multocida causes the disease.

What are the signs of HS?

8 Strong animals may carry the bacteria but show no signs.


  page 95

Signs of disease  (8-12)

HS is seen as an acute condition, with sudden and serious onset that easily causes death.

Animals become dull and have high fever.  They refuse to eat and salivate more than normally.  There is also discharge from the nose.  Swellings develop typically and quickly, especially around the throat, the brisket, the dewlap and sometimes around the head.  The tongue may swell also and protrude from the mouth.  Finally, the animal has difficulty breathing because the swellings impair respiration and it may die from this obstruction of the respiratory tract.  In some cases a bloody diarrhoea may be an obvious part of the disease picture.

Sick animals may die in a few hours but sometimes disease lasts up to 3-4 days before death occurs in untreated animals.  For animals with acute disease, which are left untreated, the death rate is high.

page 96

9 Cows with HS:
- salivate more than usual
- have a discharge from the nose
- have a swollen tongue which may stick out from the mouth
- have swellings round the neck
- have swellings round the brisket, dewlap and sometimes the head
- are dull and have high fever
- may have bloody diarrhoea.
11 The swellings make breathing difficult and your cow may die.
 A sudden death is often the first sign of infection.
12 Animals with HS can die quickly.


  page 97

Transmission of disease  (13-17)

The bacteria can normally be found in a small percentage of a buffalo or cattle population, apparently not causing any disease.  When fodder supply and climate are particularly unfavourable, disease outbreaks occur.  This is often seen at the beginning of the rainy season:  the scarce fodder supply at the end of dry season, the fodder change, and the increased workload, that some animals are subject to with the onset of rainy season, stress the animals and the number of outbreaks may rise dramatically.  Transportation over long distances and/or under bad (crowded) conditions, may also cause disease outbreaks.

The bacteria can be found in saliva and nasal discharge from sick animals.  In this way food, drinking water and surroundings may be contaminated, and the bacteria can survive here for some hours.  Other animals may then pick up the bacteria and, depending on their general condition, develop disease.

page 98


How can your animals get HS?
13 Normally, 1 animal in 20 in a cattle or buffalo herd has the bacteria with no signs of disease.
14 Many animals get HS when conditions are difficult:
- bad weather
- little food at the end of the dry season
- heavy work at the beginning of the rainy season
- moving long distances and overcrowding.


  page 99

Diagnosis  (18-19)

Often, observation of clinical symptoms will be sufficient to establish diagnosis.  Highly acute disease with throat swellings and high death rate suggests HS but the disease may be confused with Anthrax, Rinderpest, Blackquarter or poisoning.

Blood samples from acutely sick or recently dead animals, or samples of the fluid contained in the swellings, should be sent to the laboratory for diagnosis.  Pieces of internal organs from recently dead animals should also be sent for diagnosis.

page 100

17 Bacteria in saliva and discharge from the nose can get into water and food.

They can live for a few hours and pass to other animals who eat or drink.

How can you know if your animals have HS?

18 The vet knows the disease maybe HS if many cows die with swellings in the throat.

19 He can make sure it is HS (and not Anthrax, Rinderpest, Blackquarter or poisoning) by laboratory tests of:
- blood
- liquids from the swellings
- organs from animals not long dead.


  page 101

Treatment  (20-21)

Treatment should be initiated in the earlier stages of disease.  It should consist of intravenous injections of broad-spectrum antibiotics or sulphonamides.  Recovery is possible when treatment is undertaken early.  For animals treated too late, or not treated at all, the mortality rate is high.  Prompt vaccination and antibiotic/sulphonamide treatment may be combined.

Prevention and control  (22)

The best control is annual vaccination, preferably carried out just before the high risk (rainy) season.  Vaccines are available that give immunity lasting for a year.  Immunity starts about 2 weeks after vaccination.

Calves should be more than 3 months before vaccination is given, but before this age they may acquire some immunity by suckling the milk of vaccinated dams.

page 102

 How can you treat animals with HS?

20 Call the vet at the first signs of the disease (or when there is a sudden death among your cattle/buffalo).

21 He can give injections of:
- antibiotics or
- sulphonamides.
Your animals may recover if you treat them early.


How can you prevent and control HS?

22 Vaccinate all animals (except calves under 3 months) every year.


  page 103

What do you know about HS?
    Susceptible animals
    Many animals but not human beings
    Animals may have HS but show no signs 
    1 Salivation and nasal discharge 
    2 Swellings on tongue and neck 
    3 Swellings on brisket and dewlap
    4 Dull with high fever
    5 Bloody diarrhoea
    6 Difficulty in breathing
    Animals usually die within 4 days without treatment 
    Conditions conducive to getting and transmitting HS include:
    1 Difficult conditions
    2 Bacteria in water and food 
     Laboratory tests 
    Call vet for injections
    Prevention and control

page 104

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