A couple diseases that could cause sickness and in some cases death in cattle haven’t gotten much attention in West Virginia until some local producers started finding cases of both anaplasmosis and bovine leukosis virus in their beef cattle herds last year.
In an effort to help producers gain more understanding of these diseases and how to combat them, the Roane County Farm Bureau and the WVU-Roane County Extension Service are co-sponsoring a free workshop for beef producers on Tuesday, September 26, at 7 p.m. at the Roane County High School Vo-Ag Department. The guest speaker will be new state veterinarian, Dr. James Maxell, DVM. The high school is located on 1 Raider Way, approximately 4 miles south of Spencer on Route 119. The vo-ag department is located on the left side of the building next to the parking lot with the greenhouses.
Bovine anaplasmosis is a bloodborne disease that could cause severe anemia shortly after a cow is infected, which in some cases results in death or abortions, says WVU Extension Agent, Brandy Brabham. And cows that recover from the disease become a lifetime carrier of the bacteria that causes it unless it is successfully treated, she said.
The disease is typically transmitted through biting flies and blood-contaminated inanimate objects such as hypodermic needles, some tagging instruments, surgical instruments, nose tongs, and possibly tattoo equipment, Brabham said. Although there is a disease called “anaplasmosis” in human beings, it is not the same, and the disease in cows is not transmitted to humans, she said.
“It’s a disease that’d been in West Virginia for quite a while, with veterinarians reporting several cases each year, yet many producers don’t know about it,” Brabham said. “Most cases are reported in the fall, which suggests that horseflies are a common vector for the disease in our region.
Bovine leukosis virus is an oncogenic retrovirus of cattle. Once cattle are infected, the virus incorporates itself into the genome of the cow’s lymphocytes. As such, the lymphocyte is the infectious unit in the transmission of BLV from cow to cow. Anything that allows for blood to move from animal to animal has the potential to move the virus. Some more common methods include dehorning using cutting methods, tattooing, rectal examination using multi-use sleeves, and blood sampling with the same needle and syringe. Transmission may also occur in utero, at calving, though colostrum ingestion in the neonate, and potentially by biting flies and natural service.
Bovine leukosis virus (BLV) is endemic in the United States cattle population. While this is well known, there is very little data regarding prevalence and scope of the disease within the US. BLV is most prevalent in dairy cattle and some surveys show that about 10% of US beef cattle are also infected with BLV.
Economic losses associated with BLV are difficult to enumerate. Cattle that develop cancer from the virus will incur clear losses due to decreased production, increased veterinary costs, premature culling, and potentially death. Losses in virally infected cattle without cancer are more difficult to discern.
Producers need to understand how significant these disease are for their herds and learn more about preventative measures and treatment options, says Brabham.
“The goal is to educate people on how the diseases spread and know how to deal with them if any of your animals get it. We’ve had some cases in our area, and people want to learn more.”
Pre-registration is not required, but suggested. Please call the local WVU-Roane County Extension office at 304-927-0975 to pre-register or get more information about this meeting or other educational meetings available in this area.