It is often said dynamite comes in small packages, or that the ant has been known for killing an elephant. These age-old saying rings true when it comes to cattle diseases. The tick, an often-regular visitor to the cattle kraal is one of the most potent threats to animal health, and has been known to cause a variety of diseases to livestock.
Ticks cause severe damage to cattle, especially the area around the udder and ears. The wound will often get infected with bacteria and might be attacked by flies. Some ticks cause greater damage than others, such as the ones, which infect cattle with heartwater, redwater and gall sickness.
Dr Meunae Kaatura, a veterinarian and lecturer at the University of Namibia said it is critical to make sure that vaccinations are administered correctly.
Speaking at a recent farmers’ event, he said vaccinations that are wrongly administered could result in death of the animal.
He noted that it would be fatal to administer an injection into the muscles if it is meant to be administered intravenously.
“If you are to administer an intravenous injection, you need to lift skin when injecting, otherwise it goes directly into the muscles. Vaccines can prevent a wide range of diseases that can cause reduced production, fertility or death in cattle and economic losses to producers. Vaccines can protect cattle against clostridial diseases, reproductive and respiratory diseases as well as calf scours, bovine ephemeral fever and pinkeye.
Experts say following directions on the vaccine label is vital to ensure that the vaccination programme is effective and to prevent residues in slaughtered animals.
Discussing your vaccination programme with your private or government veterinarian will help you decide which vaccinations will be most valuable in maintaining your herd’s health and profitability.
European breeds tend to be at greater risk than young animals for redwater and gall sickness. Prevention for all of these tick-borne diseases is by tick control. You could either use a pour-on, or a plunge dip or spray dip if you have the facilities for this.
Pour-ons can be easier to use and you do not need additional facilities, but these are more expensive. You may need to treat for ticks as often as once a week in the wet season and then every second week in the dry season.
You may be able to treat less often if you vaccinate the cattle against tick-borne diseases. Vaccination is best done in calves under six months of age and one dose is sufficient. The heartwater vaccine is given in the vein and it must be done by a veterinarian. Because these are live vaccines, signs of disease can occur and treatment may be needed following vaccination, especially for the heartwater vaccine.
Ticks related diseases are;
Signs of redwater are fever, lack of appetite, red urine, pale to yellow gums and eyes, and sometimes nervous signs such as difficulty in walking. This disease can lead to deaths if the animals are not treated on time. Treatment involves keeping the cattle calm. They should not be driven over long distances and should be injected with Berenil or Imizol. Contact your veterinarian for advice on these vaccines and correct dosage.
Apart from being passed to cattle by ticks, gall sickness can also be spread among cattle by blood, for example by biting insects, dehorning and injecting the animals with the same needle.
Signs of gall sickness are depression, lack of appetite, fever, and pale to yellow gums and eyes, as well as constipation. The animal can be sick for a longer period than in the case of redwater or heartwater.
Treatment involves keeping the cattle calm.
They should not be driven over long distances and should be injected with Tetracycline or Imizol injections. The dose of Tetracycline will depend on the type you are using. It is therefore important to read the instructions on the bottle. Once again, contact your nearest veterinarian for advice.
Signs of heart water are fever, depression, high stepping, leading to convulsions and death. Treatment is with Tetracycline. Read the instructions on the bottle properly for the dose.