Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Vets focus on theileria

Dairy vets and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff are working together to develop ways to manage the number of cattle with parasitic anaemia after an increase last summer.

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 in New Plymouth.

The parasite has been in New Zealand for the past 30 years but MPI believes the increase is related to a recently identified strain of theileria called Ikeda.

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

“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.”

Dr Andy McFadden

MPI veterinarian

In some cases animals show little signs of the disease while some herds have had clinical disease and animal deaths. MPI 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 said 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.”

McFadden said the disease affects only cattle and there are no human or food safety issues.

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 theileria, veterinarians will report the cases to MPI.

While there is no vaccine and no treatment has proven 100% 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,” McFadden said.

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