Older, lactating cattle more likely to be severely impacted, effected farmers say.
Dairy farmers urged to be on lookout for U.S. disease
(MartineDoucet/E+/Getty Images)

Canadian milk commissions are urging producers to be on the lookout for symptoms of an emerging health concern affecting dairy cattle.

U.S. dairy producers are reporting high onset of and high morbidity from Texas Agalactiae Syndrome, with confirmed cases in Texas, Kansas and New Mexico. Lactating cows are considered particularly vulnerable.

Clinical signs include:

  • Decreased herd level milk production
  • Acute sudden drop in production with some severely impacted cows experiencing thicker, concentrated, colostrum-like milk
  • Decreased feed consumption with a simultaneous drop in rumen motility
  • Abnormal tacky or loose feces and some fever

The Texas Animal Health Commission says symptoms of the disease last between 10 and 14 days. The exact cause of the illness is undiagnosed and still unknown.

Affected producers have reported older cows in mid-lactation may be more likely to be severely impacted than younger cows and fresh cows or heifers.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) says there is no indication this is a foreign animal disease.

Producers are being asked to be diligent in their farm level biosecurity, especially with individuals that have recently been in the U.S. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has also asked for heightened border controls around people who have been on farms in the U.S.

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) recommends limiting animal movements from U.S. sources.

If animals are brought from the U.S., they should be quarantined on-farm and monitored very carefully for any illness symptoms, especially those listed above.

Producers are also asked to report any potential symptoms to their local veterinarians. If your animals are exhibiting the above symptoms, do not consume any raw milk.

DFC is working with CFIA to monitor the situation and will continue to update should there be further developments.

Jeff Melchior writes for the Alberta Farmer Express

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