Producers urged to watch out for tick-borne disease

Ticks-2Cattle producers need to be alert to any signs of theileriosis, a tick-borne disease which may cause anaemia, weakness and death in animals under stress.

It follows BiosecuritySA’s confirmation of a recurrence of the disease at a farm in the State’s south-east which resulted in the death of nine cattle.

PIRSA Chief Veterinary Officer, Roger Paskin said this disease seen in Australia is usually mild or ‘benign’ – deaths are uncommon in areas where the disease is endemic and clinical signs may not be seen at all except in each new crop of calves or in introduced cattle.

The disease can however be more severe when it moves into new areas, where animals have not been previously exposed—some may become ill and a few may die, as is the case on this one farm in the south-east.

Given the way the disease can be spread, in this instance a quarantine on the property would not be an effective mitigation tool.

Therefore, BiosecuritySA is advising producers and veterinarians to be on the look out for the presence of the disease and consider potential strategies to protect further animals from possible infections.

South Australian vets have been made informed of the condition and farmers requiring further information should contact their local vet or nearest PIRSA animal health office.
Theileria is a parasite transmitted by bush ticks and infects both red and white blood cells of cattle. It may also spread by multiple use of vaccination guns, ear taggers or other husbandry devices that are contaminated with blood.

Theileria is especially widespread in Queensland and Northern NSW.

The disease, first confirmed in SA in 2012 in healthy animals and subsequently in a small clinical outbreak in 2014 is considered endemic in high rainfall areas of New South Wales and Victoria, is caused by a blood parasite and usually transmitted by bush ticks.

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