Three-day sickness knocks cattle for six in Kyogle

Bovine ephemeral fever, also known as three-day sickness, is in the region.

The disease was confirmed through testing a herd in the Kyogle area.

There have been clinical signs of the disease in the Tweed and Brunswick areas.

It is expected that the disease will move south as the season progresses.

Three-day sickness is an insect-transmitted virus of cattle that causes a high fever and pain in 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 have the disease.

Affected cattle often separate from the others, are off their feed, seek shade and water, shiver, drool and are lame.

Signs usually last only a few days (hence the name) 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 greater risk of complications from being down.

Pregnant cows may abort.

Bulls may become infertile for up to three months.

The virus is common in summer because there are more of the biting insects including mosquitoes and midges that transmit it.

Recent rainfall has provided favourable conditions for the insects to breed up.

Producers are encouraged to seek veterinary advice because medication is highly effective in bringing down the fever and reducing pain. So, recovery tends to be quicker with less weight loss.

There are several other diseases that can resemble three-day sickness but need different treatment – so diagnosis is essential.

A paddock with plenty of shade, water and feed and without steep gullies is ideal for cattle to recover in.

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.

A vaccine is available and is strongly recommended for bulls and any cattle from areas that do not normally have the virus.

Where the virus is already active, the vaccine is unlikely to provide protection.

In more southern areas there may still be time for the vaccine to provide protection before the virus arrives.

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