Fears over complacency surrounding abortions in cattle

THERE is a danger farmers could become too complacent about abortion in cattle, says the National Animal Disease Information Service (Nadis).

It said that while Defra (England and Wales) or Seerad (Scotland) should be informed of all abortions and premature births (before day 271 of gestation) the number of reported cases was very low.

Nadis vet Phil Scott said: “Complacency can result in serious disease problems and significant financial loss unless the cause(s) of abortion is recognised at the outset of the problem,” he said. “Infectious agents causing infertility/abortion may affect one or two individual animals, but often cause widespread problems within a herd.

“It is very important to remember that many infectious causes of abortion can be transmitted to humans. Young children, pregnant women and the elderly are especially vulnerable to such infections.”

Abortion before three months may not be detected until the cow unexpectedly returns to oestrus. In some cases the foetus may be found, but in certain cases retained foetal membranes may be the only evidence of abortion.

Bacteria were the main cause – see table – but IBR and BVD were also a concern, he said. The latter could be controlled by maintaining a disease-free herd or putting a vaccination programme in place.

The Nadis recommendation is to form a comprehensive herd plan and strictly adhere to it.

About Nadis

Nadis is a network of 59 veterinary practices and six veterinary colleges monitoring diseases in cattle, sheep and pigs in the UK.

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