Cases of flood mud scours in cattle have been detected on several Mid Coast farms over recent days near Gloucester and also Lansdowne. Both farms had cattle grazing previously flood affected pastures and paddocks with silt from flood waters.

Flood Mud Scours or Yersiniosis can cause a severe diarrhoea and death in cattle. Adults are usually affected although it is also seen in yearlings.

District Vet Dr Lyndell Stone said it is often seen in cool wet weather in cattle grazing wet, waterlogged or recently flooded pastures.

“Mud contamination of dry feed and muddy conditions as cattle congregate around silage and hay feeders is a common risk,” said Dr Lyndell Stone

“Therefore, this winter is shaping into a particularly risky period. Producers are asked to watch for signs of illness and scours in cattle grazing high risk paddocks and to be prepared to respond quickly with early treatment and moving cattle to a lower risk paddock.

“Flood mud scours often occurs in an outbreak situation involving several cattle in a herd over a short period as cattle are exposed to a common bacterial source. Thus responding well to the first case can be rewarded with a cessation of cases.”

Flood Mud Scours is caused by the bacteria Yersinia psuedotuberculosis. The bacteria can be carried by a range of animals including cattle, rodents and birds. Infected animals shed the bacteria in their faeces contaminating pastures. The bacteria can survive for long periods and multiply in mud and water at cool temperatures.

There is often significant stress on affected animals (predisposing to infection) ie lactation and pregnancy, wet weather, wind, concurrent low nutrition and parasite burdens. Thus ensuring good health, nutrition and being up to date with de-worming treatments can also help prevent issues.

“Occasionally animals will be found dead without showing prior clinical signs, however more frequently cattle will become depressed, off feed and develop a profuse watery, foul smelling diarrhoea.

“Affected cattle become dehydrated and often become recumbent. Death usually occurs within three to five days.”

A post-mortem examination reveals swelling of the intestinal lining, and watery foul-smelling gut contents. The diagnosis can be confirmed by submitting faecal samples (from alive or deceased animals) to the laboratory and culturing the bacteria.

“Early treatment with an appropriate antibiotic will save many animals, however when treatment is delayed it is much less successful,” said Dr Stone.

“Suitable antibiotics must be prescribed by a veterinarian; withholding periods for meat and milk apply.

“Moving cattle to a different paddock as well as moving hay and silage feeders after each bale are also important steps to prevent further cases.”

Isolation of affected animals from the rest of the mob is recommended. It is also a good idea to advise your neighbours to be on lookout if they have similar conditions on their property.

For more information please talk to your private veterinarian or the Local Land Services District Vet team on 1300 795 299.

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