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Dairy Cattle Veterinarians Focus On Theileria at Conference

2013 Dairy Cattle Veterinarians Conference “All the udder bits”

Dairy Cattle Veterinarians Focus On Theileria

Over the past summer there was an increase in the numbers of cattle suffering parasitic anaemia and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and dairy cattle veterinarians are working together to develop ways to manage the problem.

An additional session on theileria, the parasite transmitted by cattle ticks which is associated with anaemia, has been added to this week’s Society of Dairy Cattle Veterinarians’ conference being held at the Devon Hotel in New Plymouth, from Tuesday 25 June to Thursday 27 June.

Theileria orientalis has been present in New Zealand for the past 30 years but MPI believe the current situation is related to a recently identified strain of theileria called Ikeda.

Stock in the upper half of the North Island have been particularly affected and there has been one case in Canterbury.

In some cases animals show little signs of the disease, while some herds have suffered clinical disease and animal deaths. MPI currently has records of 44 herds affected in Northland, Auckland and Waikato with one in Canterbury most recently affected. There have been 70 cattle deaths.

MPI veterinarian Dr Andy McFadden there is no cause for panic.

“The number of reported cases is relatively low and impacts from the condition are likely to reduce over time as cattle nationally build up immunity.”

He emphasises that the disease only affects cattle and there is no human or food safety issue.

Farmers who see signs of lethargy, poor growth, poor appetite and reduced milk production should contact their veterinarian in the first instance. Where test results confirm the presence of theileria, veterinarians will report the cases to MPI.

While there is currently no vaccine and no current treatments have proven 100 per cent effective, there are management practices farmers can apply.

“Check for ticks regularly, rest affected animals, give high quality feed and water to affected stock, minimise movement or yarding and keep an eye on any newly introduced cattle to an affected area,” Mr McFadden says.

The session on Theileria is the final one of the Society of Dairy Cattle Veterinarians’ Conference being held this week.


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