Farm Talk

May 7, 2013

Anaplasmosis prevention in beef herds

by Keith Martin

Parsons, Kansas — Anaplasmosis can be a costly disease to beef cattle producers. Anaplasmosis is caused by a blood-borne organism that destroys red blood cells and causes severe anemia, weakness, fever, lack of appetite, depression, lower milk production, jaundice, abortion and sometimes death. Adult cattle are more susceptible to infection than calves and generally the disease is more fatal to cattle over three years of age. Animals that recover from infection usually remain sources of infection for other cattle for the remainder of their lives.

A transfer of blood must occur for anaplasmosis to spread from a carrier animal to a susceptible animal. Ticks, horse flies, stable flies and mosquitoes are the most common  vectors for spreading the disease in cattle. Humans can also be a mechanical vector through the use of equipment (needles, scalpels, tattoo equipment, dehorners etc) that is contaminated with anaplasmosis infected blood on susceptible animals.

Treatment of infected animals is difficult due to the fact that many of the clinical symptoms of anaplasmosis may not occur until the animal is in the acute stage of the disease.

As with most diseases Benjamin Franklin’s statement, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is most applicable. Reducing vector transmission is the most practical way to reduce problems with anaplasmosis. Developing a prevention plan with your veterinarian which contains some or all of the following elements can be helpful in reducing losses from anaplasmosis.

•Absolute control of all insect vectors is neither practical or possible. However, avoiding grazing in areas that harbor large populations or ticks during certain times of the year as well as treating with insecticides when economic thresholds are reached can be helpful in reducing incidence of the disease.

•Follow strict sanitation procedures anytime vaccinations or surgery are performed.

•Consider testing herd to identify carrier animals. Either remove from herd or develop a treatment plan with your veterinarian to clear carrier animals.

•Feed Chlorotetracycline (CTC) daily during the vector season to prevent transmission to susceptible animals. The labeled prevention rate is .5 milligram per pound of body weight daily. It is important to monitor mineral or feed intake so that the correct rate is fed daily.

For information about this and other livestock and forage topics contact the K – State Research & Extension, Wildcat District office at (620) 784-5337 or email me at For other resources available through our staff check out www.wildcatdis, https://ww or https: // £