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Alert on cattle blackleg deaths

: News & Articles : Schools and Farming : Alert on cattle blackleg deaths
Posted on: 2012-09-01

SAC vets are warning farmers about a rise in the incidence of blackleg in cattle after it was diagnosed recently in five of its disease surveillance centres at St Boswells, Ayr, Dumfries, Edinburgh and Perth.

They believe the recent wet weather may have triggered the rise in cases of this fatal disease, caused by the bacterium Clostridium chauvoei.

Alwyn Jones, veterinary information officer at the St Boswells centre, says: “Cattle between six and 24 months old are particularly susceptible to this disease. Affected cattle are often found dead, although occasionally they may be lame and have a swollen upper limb before they die.”

The bacterium can survive in soil for several years as highly resistant spores. Once in the animal’s body, the spores are activated. The bacteria then multiply, producing lethal toxins which spread through the body and cause rapid death.

Mr Jones says it is not unusual to see outbreaks of blackleg during the warmer months of the year. The disease can be easily prevented by vaccination.

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