Cases of three-day sickness in cattle reported

Cases of bovine ephemeral fever, also known as three-day sickness, have been reported in cattle in the area.

The disease was confirmed through laboratory testing in herds across the Northern Rivers.

Three-day sickness is an insect transmitted virus of cattle that causes a high fever and pain in the muscles and joints. It is usually seen in cattle between six months and two years of age, however if they are from outside the region adult cattle can also experience the disease.

Affected cattle are often by themselves, off their feed, seek shade and water, shiver, drool and are lame. Signs usually last only a few days and most cattle recover uneventfully.

Some cattle – especially bulls and heavier conditioned cattle – may go down and take several days to get back on their feet. Heavier cattle are at an increased risk of secondary complications as a result of being down. Pregnant cows may abort and bulls may become infertile for up to six months. Milk production can drop significantly in lactating cows.

The virus appears on the North Coast in summer as the population of the biting insects that transmit the disease increase. The recent rainfall provides favourable conditions for the insect populations to increase rapidly.

Producers are encouraged to seek veterinary advice. Medication is highly effective in bringing down the fever and reducing the muscle and joint pain. Recovery tends to be quicker with less weight loss. There are several other diseases that may resemble three-day sickness requiring alternative treatment, so veterinary diagnosis is essential.

A paddock with plenty of shade, water and feed and free of steep gullies is ideal for cattle to recover in. Any affected cattle should be provided with shade, water and feed and turned or lifted twice daily to help prevent secondary complications.

Recently recovered cattle should not be sent to the abattoirs for several weeks, to give the body a chance to heal and avoid the possibility of downgrades from any residual muscle damage.

For further advice contact your North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian or private veterinary practitioner.

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