Now is the time to vaccinate for Three Day Sickness
With summer almost here, farmers are reminded that Bovine Ephemeral Fever (BEF) season will soon be upon us.
Producers should start thinking about preparations for the viral disease of cattle, commonly known as ‘Three Day Sickness’. The virus mostly causes a short-term illness and loss of production in previously unexposed or unvaccinated cattle.
Reports from disease and insect surveillance in QLD indicate that mosquito numbers are up and BEF has been circulating in QLD herds over the past couple of months. Veterinarians in far northern NSW are also expecting BEF cases to start appearing soon, which is a month or two earlier than normal.
If current conditions continue, producers in the Hunter should be prepared for an influx of mosquitos carrying the virus earlier than normal. Cases historically tend to occur in the Hunter in late summer.
Vaccination of non-immune stock is a valuable strategy to consider, but producers have a limited window of opportunity to do so. For effective protection the vaccine course should be completed prior to the expected exposure period to ensure cattle have time to build immunity.
PREVENTION: Now is the time to vaccinate your cattle against Three Day Sickness.
Advance action is essential, it is generally too late to vaccinate once cattle in your herd are affected.
Heavy adult animals such as well muscled steers and finished stock, bulls and pregnant cattle are the worst affected and may be key targets for vaccination to minimise production loss from BEF.
Cattle can suffer fever and can become very sore and stiff and unable to stand until the pain and inflammation subsides. Infected animals will often go down, requiring nursing care. Having many affected animals makes this an onerous task, increasing farm workload and ultimately reducing profitability and animal wellbeing.
Most cattle infected through previous exposure develop long-term immunity. Coastal areas in the Hunter generally received wide exposure to the virus last year. But cattle introduced to the region or born after last year’s BEF season will not have protective immunity.
Producers considering preventative vaccination for their stock should contact their private veterinarian.
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