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Check for fall diseases in cattle

LSU AgCenter veterinarian Dr. Christine Navarre is getting calls from around Louisiana that anaplasmosis outbreaks are occurring in cattle herds.

“It’s not uncommon to get these calls this time of year,” Navarre said. “But it’s still a red flag that producers need to be watching for this disease and take steps to prevent further outbreaks.”

Anaplasmosis is a disease spread by insects, usually flies, that can lead to death, especially in adult cattle. It can be prevented three ways — through vaccination, feed that contains an antibiotic and minerals, and fly control.

“If producers see signs of the disease, the first step they should take is to call their veterinarian to make sure their cattle are getting the appropriate treatment,” Navarre said.

Symptoms include depression and fever and, in milking herds, a rapid drop in production. The infected animal becomes weak, separates from the herd and may be frightened easily. The moist surfaces around the eyes and muzzle become yellow. Animals that survive gradually recover but remain carriers, Navarre said.

“The mineral mix with antibiotics that producers can feed their cattle to help prevent the disease has a salt base, which the animals are attracted to,” Navarre said. “But if they’re getting too much salt in their water and feed, they won’t eat the mineral mix.”

Anaplasmosis is always a problem in coastal parishes but may be worse this year because of saltwater intrusion from the 2005 hurricane storm surges and resultant loss of the marsh. In some cases, the salt content of water may be deadly for cattle. Producers moving cattle back into hurricane-affected areas should monitor the salt content of the water supplies.

Another problem to watch out for this time of year is parasites. Infestations by brown stomach worms and liver flukes can cause severe production losses and even death, Navarre said.

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