Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Livestock Disease Trends – June 2014

Livestock Disease Trends – June 2014

Supplied by the Livestock Health and Production Group (LHPG) of the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) 

Roundworms: With colder temperatures in winter the infestation rates of most roundworm species (especially wireworm) are declining in the summer rainfall areas. However reports of infestations, especially in small stock, are still being received. 

Internal parasites

Brown stomach-worm infestations are on the increase in the winter rainfall areas.

Beware of certain parasites such as wireworm and brown stomach-worm hibernating in winter and then causing serious problems in early spring.

Reports of resistance to anthelmintics were received. Evaluate worm infestation with the 5-point Check and faecal egg counts and discuss your parasite control programme with your vet.

  • Flukes: Animals graze vleis in winter where water bodies are prevalent. The intermediate hosts, snails, and the infective stages of liver and conical flukes are present in these areas. And it’s no wonder that reports of serious problems with these parasites were received from almost all provinces. 
  • Tapeworms:  Financial losses at abattoirs due to measles (cysticercosis) were reported. Measles in sheep were due to unhygienic conditions on farms where dogs (intermediate hosts) were not dewormed at regular intervals. Discuss the life cycle of these parasites with your vet along with which drugs to use to control these tapeworms.
  • Coccidiosis: Numerous reports of infestation with this protozoal parasite were documented. Young animals are especially affected. Discuss preventative measures with your vet.

External parasites

  • Ticks:  Blue ticks are still prevalent in many areas despite colder temperatures. Is the Asiatic blue tick adapting to cooler conditions? 

Reports of the presence of the following tick species were also received: heart water tick, brown ear-tick, bont-legged tick, red-legged tick and the Karoo paralysis tick. Each of these transmits specific diseases. Discuss their life cycles with your vet and how to control them.

  • Lice: In winter lice poses a problem through sucking and biting. Numerous reports were received and as nutritional value of grazing decreases these parasites pose a health problem for animals. Discuss control programmes with your vet.
  • Mites: Be on the lookout for disturbances such as wool scratching and hair loss.

Tick-borne diseases

Although it’s thought that African and Asiatic red water should not occur in winter, reports of outbreaks and mortalities were still received. There were also reports of anaplasmosis and heartwater.

As always, discuss control measures and vaccination programmes with your vet.

Venereal diseases

Trichomonosis is causing havoc in SA, with only two provinces (Western Cape and Northern Cape) not reporting this disease. It is of utmost importance that biosecurity measures are in place. Talk to your vet.

Regular reports of vibriosis also being received. Good vaccines exist to control this disease.

Insect-transmitted diseases

Reports were received of numerous cases of lumpy skin disease, which confirms that some species of ticks are also capable of transmitting the virus causing the disease.

Only a few cases of three-day stiff sickness and one of blue tongue were reported. There were no reports of Rift Valley Fever and Wesselsbron disease

All of these diseases should be controlled if a proper vaccination programme is followed. Vaccine orders should now be placed to prevent losses during the next rainy season when the vectors (midges, mosquitoes and biting flies) are present.

Viral diseases

Bovine malignant catarrh (snotsiekte) is reported every month. As game farming is on the increase this disease is getting more and more important. At present here is no vaccine available. Discuss preventative measures with your vet.

Other viral diseases that were reported are: rabies, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), bovine viral syncytial virus (BRSV) , enzootic bovine leucosis (EBL), orf and warts.

Bacterial diseases

The following were reported: blackquarter, pulpy kidney, swelled head, red gut, blood gut, tetanus, botulism, salmonellosis, bovine brucellosis, ovine brucellosis, tuberculosis, Johnes, leptospirosis, enzootic abortion, colibacillosis, intra-uterine gangrene and Senkobo disease.

For most of these diseases there are vaccines. Consult your vet.


The following were reported: cardiac glycoside, Ink berry (Cestrum), Cynanchum (klimop), facial eczema, geeldikkop, gousiekte, Lantana, krimpsiekte, tulip, blue green algae, diplodiosis, nitrate, prussic acid, oxalate, urea and snake bite. Draw up a protocol with your vet on how to treat these poisonings should any occur on your farm.

Nutritional deficiencies

In winter months the protein, energy and vitamin A content of pasture decreases and reports of deficiencies were received. Deficiencies in macro- and micro-minerals were received. It is important that animals receive supplementation during these deficient periods.

Metabolic conditions

The following were reported: acidosis, displaced abomasum, ketosis and milkfever.

Reproductive disorders

The following were reported: abortions, dystocias, over sized lambs, endometritis, metritis, poor conception, retained afterbirths and prolapses.

Feedlot reports 

Sheep feedlots

  • Fewer cases of pneumonia were seen compared to previous months. At abattoirs numerous lungs were condemned due to lung lesions. Dust played a major role. A few cases of abscessation in the lungs due to Trueperella pyogenes infection were seen.
  • Condemned livers at abattoirs were also due to liver fluke infestation. In one case the livers of a whole group of lambs were condemned. The daily growth of the group was poor.
  • Deaths due to salmonellosis still occurred. Sheep surviving this infection after treatment have poor growth due to damage of the gastro-intestinal tract.

Cattle feedlots

  • This year more than the normal amount of calves arrived diseased at the feedlots and they usually died within days due to severe lung damage and abscessation. These calves probably picked up the original lesions at the farm of origin while still with their dams. The final blow was the stress of weaning, transport and processing in spite of the use of antibiotics.
  • Deaths due to anaplasmosis, red water, heartwater, blackquarter and lumpy skin disease occurred in numerous feedlots.
  • Pneumonia is still at the top of the list of feedlot deaths. Dust plays a major role as a contributing factor to pneumonia developing. Underweight calves arriving from auctions are at a high risk of becoming ill.
  • Deaths due to bloat and red gut accompanied by acidosis point to problems with nutritional management.
  • Liver fluke infestation led to numerous livers being condemned at a loss of about R100/liver.
  • Injection sites in hindquarter muscles resulted in meat of high value being trimmed with big financial losses to the feed lot. Calves should never be injected in the high-value muscles. Products such as certain tetracyclines (which are commonly used) may cause severe lesions leading to scar tissue formation which remains in the animal for life.

View the Livestock Disease Trends Map in your area.

Related Articles >>

Understanding zoonosis
Livestock Disease Trends – May 2014
Livestock Disease Trends – April 2014
FMD-free status: Sorry, but it’s just not enough!

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