Farm Talk

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December 7, 2010

Anaplasmosis a concern for area cattle producers

Parsons, Kansas — Anaplasmosis, commonly referred to as anaplaz, is a deadly cattle disease that producers need to be vigilant about watching for in their herds.

According to K-State Extension beef veterinarian Larry Hollis, although the disease is not necessarily a regional disease, he has heard of if occurring frequently in southeast Kansas.

“Anaplasmosis affects the red blood cells of adult cattle, not calves, and the most frequent observation is sudden death,” he explained at the 10th Annual Fall Beef Cattle Meeting held recently in Fredonia, Kansas.

The disease, which is more of a parasite than a bacteria or virus, according to Hollis, destroys the red blood cells in animals causing them to become anemic.

Early symptoms of anaplasmosis include anemia, icterus, weakness, fever and aggression.

“If you’ve ever been penned by a cow with Anaplaz you know what I am talking about when I say they can be aggressive,” he explained. “I guess they get kind of mad when they run out of air.”

In addition to causing death in cattle, the infection could also cause cattle to abort.

The disease, according to Hollis, is not contagious, which might be the only good thing that can be said about it.

“The only way the disease can spread from one animal to another is through blood transfer,” he said. “There are two means for this to occur—biological vectors and mechanical transmission.”

The biological transfer is done by ticks or biting flies, which include horse flies and deer flies.

“Tick and fly control is essential in order to reduce the instances of anaplaz in beef herds,” Hollis said.

According to him, spraying is a good way to control ticks and flies while fly tags are less beneficial.

“Fly tags have their place but they don’t help with biting flies.”

In addition to fly control there are some other control methods available.

“Anaplasmosis can also be treated with a long-acting oxytetracycline which will usually stop further death losses within a week following treatment,” Hollis explained.

The veterinarian also told producers that feeding chlortetracycline during the summer months will cut down on the instances of anaplasmosis in the herd.

According to him, feeding CTC should continue until the end of fly season.

The second way the disease is spread from one animal to the next is mechanically.

“Anaplasmosis can be transmitted any time blood is transferred from one animal to another by vaccination needles, ear taggers, tattoo pliers, dehorners, castration equipment, or, anything we use that draws blood on an animal,” he explained.

That is why, he told producers, it is essential to disinfect any equipment used on more than one animal.

Anaplasmosis is a serious disease and can have quite an impact on individual producers as well as the beef cattle industry.

Research, according to Hollis, has shown it could cost up to as much as $400 per cow treated with anaplasmosis and millions of cattle are lost annually to the disease.

“There is quite a financial impact tied to this disease,” Hollis said. “We see production losses, reduced weight and reduced milk. We can lose a lot of money with this disease,” he concluded.

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