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Dominant Calf Scour Pathogens Can Be Controlled

06 September 2011

MSD Animal Health - NYSE:MRK

UK - Cryptosporidium parvum and rotavirus are the most dominant calf scour-causing organisms on UK cattle units, according to the latest published data from the MSD Animal Health ScourCheck scheme.

“The latest diagnostic data from calf-side faecal samples taken by participating veterinary practices show over 32 per cent testing positive for cryptosporidia with more than 29 per cent positive for rotavirus," said MSD Animal Health livestock veterinary adviser Alfredo Sanz Moreno MRCVS.

"In the samples submitted, these two pathogens caused the majority of infectious scour outbreaks on UK calf units, but the good news is that their impact can be controlled.”

Speaking at the Dairy Event and Livestock Show, he said the new MSD Animal Health ‘Save our Youngstock’ initiative was helping to highlight the costly calf losses caused by these extremely common infectious scour organisms.

“In the dairy sector, 15 per cent of heifers die during the rearing period and many of these youngstock losses are down to scour problems or pneumonia. As an industry, we must do more to help farmers cut these unnecessary losses.”

He stressed that many calf unit scour problems could be overcome with a dam vaccination regime.

“Good cow nutrition and calving hygiene, coupled with vaccination of the dam with Rotavec Corona 12 to three weeks before calving is a very effective way of reducing scour problems caused by rotavirus, E.coli K99 and coronavirus. Calves gain protection against these key disease-causing organisms by drinking the antibody-rich colostrum from their vaccinated mothers.”

Scour problems caused by cryptosporidia can also be managed, he said. “Implementing sound hygiene protocols and the use of Halocur will definitely help. This unique medication reduces the severity of the disease in individual calves and reduces the output of cryptosporidia oocysts, which cuts the risk of disease spread.”

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