Anaplasmosis in Cattle – A Problem for the Fall Season

Published: Monday, October 1, 2012 at 11:36 AM.

“Because they are weak, they tend to resort to a ‘fight’ rather than ‘flight’ response,” Jones said.

Anaplasmosis also appears in a chronic form caused by a moderate level of anemia. Cattle lose weight over time which can cause abortions in pregnant cows. The blood of infected cows in both phases will be thin in consistency, almost watery, when examined.

“For a clinical diagnosis, veterinarians will commonly test a cow’s blood for anaplasmosis with a blood smear,” Jones said. “We can actually see the organism attached to the margin of red blood cells with a microscope.”

In the acute phase, anaplasmosis can be quite fatal if not treated properly. Jones explained that ill cattle need to be treated with great care because the stress of working and handling cattle can be fatal if the disease is advanced.

“If you suspect a cow of being infected, don’t chase her with horses or dogs if you can help it. You really need to handle them delicately to reduce their stress as much as possible,” Jones said.

The most common treatment for the disease is the use of tetracycline antibiotics. Improvement in cattle’s symptoms can be seen within a few days, but it takes between two to four weeks to see a significant recovery of red blood cell numbers.

As with most diseases, preventing the disease in the first place is ideal. Jones recommended using fly tags, rubs, and pour-on insect repellents to keep biting insects and ticks at bay. She also suggested changing needles between each cow when vaccinating or administering medicines. Another option is to put chlortetracycline in the feed at a low level to kill the organism before it can replicate and attach to red blood cells.

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