Biosecurity and Infectious Diseases

Infectious Diseases

Many will have heard of the ‘usual suspects’ of infectious disease control but may not consider them a problem – having never seen any significant signs of disease. Unfortunately, lack of clinical cases does not mean that subclinical infections of Johne’s, Leptospirosis, Neospora, BVD and IBR are not present within a herd, potentially having a significant impact on production targets.

Disease Cost
Johne's £2600 per 100 cow herd per year
Leptospirosis £68-£106 per dairy cow on average
Neospora £600 per abortion (responsible for at least 12% of cases)
BVD ݣ4500 per year (large beef herd ) or ܣ9000 per year (large dairy herd)
IBR £3200 per 100 cows in an outbreak (£82 per calf with viral pneumonia)

Whilst the economic impact of infectious diseases may be motivation enough to undertake routine preventative or surveillance measures, the impact on herd breeding strategies should not be overlooked.

The first step in controlling these diseases is to establish herd status. In dairy herds it can be easily achieved by analysing bulk tank samples. The result provides a broad indication of status, but will obviously miss infected dry cows or stock bulls. More thorough investigations require analysis of individual milk (possibly collected at NMR visits) or blood samples.

In beef herds, blood samples are required and can be undertaken at annual TB tests by prior arrangement, where the only costs borne by the individual are for additional vet time and consumables. In certain circumstances, it is possible to reduce costs further if testing for IBR, Leptospirosis or BVD, by sampling a selection of susceptible animals; however missing infected animals still remains a possibility and should be considered. The average stand-alone cost of sample testing is £3.60-£5.00, depending on the test required and quantity submitted.

Having established herd disease status, formulation of an informed control strategy is the next step and should be incorporated in to herd health plan generation or updates. Vaccination can be an important part of control, but changes in management practices, bio-security and culling of affected animals (in certain conditions) are likely to also be necessary. More integrated disease control strategies can be accessed by enrolment on any of the herd health programmes listed below:

Premium Cattle Health Scheme / Hihealth / Herdsure / My Healthy Herd

In return for an annual membership fee plus subsidised testing costs, they provide a complete package – from initial assessment to disease status accreditation. Each programme employs internationally renowned experts to personally analyse results and recommend control measures, which, with support from practice vets will ensure significant reductions in prevalence or maintenance of disease-free status.

If you have any further questions or wish to discuss infectious disease control programmes, please do not hesitate to contact us at the surgery.

Biosecurity

At The Tern Veterinary Group we firmly believe that having a robust biosecurity plan in place is essential. It can reduce the risks of introducing infectious disease into a herd and causing devastating losses.

We have a structured Pre-Purchase Plan for helping to minimise the chances of introducing any disease to your herd when purchasing animals. Please download the questionnaire and follow the advice whenever you are considering purchasing any animals, bring the questionnaire to the surgery and we will arrange to find out more from the vendor.