Be on the lookout for Three Day Sickness

Bovine Ephemeral Fever, commonly known as Three Day Sickness, has emerged in cattle on the NSW North Coast, with a likelihood of spreading to the Greater Sydney region as the season advances. The virus, transmitted by mosquitoes, induces high fever and muscle/joint pain in affected cattle.

District Veterinarian Lisa Goodchild attributes the early surge in cases to recent wet weather, creating ideal conditions for an increase of mosquitoes.

“Once bitten by an insect carrying the virus, symptoms of Three Day Sickness progress rapidly,” Lisa said.

“Aside from the fever, animals can appear depressed, lethargic, reluctant to eat and appear lame and stiff.”

“Medication is highly effective in bringing down the fever and reducing the muscle and joint pain, improving recovery timeframes, and resulting in less weight loss."

“Given the similarity of symptoms with other diseases, veterinary diagnosis is recommended.”

Affected cattle should be provided with shade, water and feed and turned or lifted twice daily to help prevent secondary complications. A paddock free of steep hills or gullies is preferable.

Recently recovered cattle should not be sent to the abattoirs for several weeks to give the body a chance to heal and avoid the possibility of downgrades from any residual muscle damage. Where treatments have been given, any withholding periods must be observed.

Consideration of vaccination is encouraged, especially for stock introduced from outside the region, homebred stock under two years of age, and high-value animals. While the vaccine may not provide immediate protection in areas already affected, the early stage of the season offers an opportunity for timely vaccination. The vaccine requires two initial doses 2-4 weeks apart for unvaccinated animals, followed by a booster every 12 months.

For further advice contact your Greater Sydney Local Land Services District Veterinarian by calling 1300 795 299 or a private veterinary practitioner.

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