Eleven Common Cattle Diseases: Signs & Symptoms



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   * Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex (BRDC)

Also know as "Shipping Fever", BRDC is a general term for the pneumonia commonly seen in recently weaned calves.

Stress is a major contributor to BRDC. Events such as weaning, dehorning, shipping and weather changes can compromise the animal's immune system, making it susceptible to disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Although stress cannot be eliminated entirely from the cow/calf operation, it can be reduced through careful handling and sanitary conditions.

An important tool in reducing the risk of BRDC is proper vaccination. Vaccinating early in life is important to stimulate immunity before animals are stressed and exposed to disease. Calves that survive respiratory disease may not grow as fast or as large as calves that have never been affected. Affected heifers may also breed later than their healthy herd mates.

Your vaccine program should include protection against the following respiratory diseases, all of which contribute to BRDC:

   * Bovine Virus Diarrhea (BVD)

This is one of the most costly diseases for cattle producers. Signs may include scours, nasal discharge, coughing and fever. BVD can also cause infertility, abortion and birth defects. Type 2 BVD can cause hemorrhaging and death in susceptible young calves and adult cows.

   * IBR (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis)

Also known as "Rednose", this highly contagious virus causes respiratory disease, abortions and infertility. Signs include inflamed nasal passages, fever, rapid breathing, deep cough and loss of appetite.

   * PI3 (Parainfluenza Type 3)

This common, mild respiratory disease suppresses the animal's immune system, allowing other diseases to develop. The virus is shed in nasal and eye secretions, and infects non-vaccinated animals through the mouth and nasal passages.

   * BRSV (Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

A sometimes fatal, stress-related infection which can cause mild to severe respiratory disease and reduce the animal's resistance to other diseases. Signs include coughing, high fever, and runny eyes and nose.

   * Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida

These highly infectious bacteria are a major cause of pneumonia, and the most commonly found pathogens in cattle dying of respiratory disease. M. haemolytica and P. multocida multiply quickly in the presence of stress, poor weather, or primary viral infections. Signs include depression, lethargy, loss of appetite and high fever. Death can occur suddenly with few signs of disease, or the animal can survive only to become a "poor doer" due to the lung damage caused by this disease.

   * Haemophilus somnus

H. somnus is a bacterial infection implicated in a variety of respiratory, neurological and reproductive disorders. H. somnus can be the primary cause of respiratory disease, or it can be an underlying infection that is masked by other disease-causing agents. Signs of H. somnus include fever, coughing, nasal discharge, labored breathing, neurologic signs and abortion. Death without symptoms can occur.

   * Reproductive diseases

Diseases of the reproductive system steal profits through infertility, delayed calving and abortions. Collectively, reproductive diseases cost cattle producers more than $500 million a year.

   * Trichomoniasis

"Trich" is a highly contagious venereal disease resulting in early embryonic death. Indications of Trich. infection include a high percentage of open cows at pregnancy check and/or a prolonged calving period. In addition to vaccination, Trich. should be managed by culling open cows identifying and removing infected bulls, and using artificial insemination.

   * Vibriosis

"Vibrio" is a bacterial disease transmitted through natural breeding. Signs of Vibrio. include infertility, early embryonic death and abortion. These signs may result in late calving and open cases.

   * Leptospirosis

"Lepto" is another costly bacterial infection that can strike cattle of all ages. Lepto. typically causes abortion during the last half of gestation. Signs also include depression, loss of appetite, anemia and decreased milk production.

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Prevention is easier than treatment and almost always more economical. 

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