National Foods Stockfeeds :: From the Vet's Desk - January Disease

The Vets Desk

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January Disease (Theileriosis)

Cows/Cattle grazing in a Meadow

What is it?
Theileriosis is a disease of cattle that is transmitted by ticks. The highest number of cases of theileriosis tends to be encountered in January when traditionally the rainfall activity will be high, hence the common name, January disease. The disease is characterised by fever, massive swelling of the lymph nodes, cessation of grazing, discharge from the eyes and nose, loss of body condition, and death.

Theileriosis is caused by a parasite (Theileria Parva) found in the blood which is transmitted between cattle by ticks. Theileriosis is one of several tick-borne diseases that occur in Zimbabwe.

The hallmark in the control of theileriosis, like all other tick-borne diseases, is to control the tick vector. This can be achieved by regular dipping. Additionally, the application of tick grease in the ear, under the tail, and tail brush should be done.

Where communal dips are not available, or dipping is not being done then farmers should make alternative arrangements and spray their cattle. Farmers should however be aware of counterfeit dipping chemicals on the informal market, and therefore, farmers are best advised to source dip chemicals from reputable suppliers of agrochemicals and veterinary products.

Movement of tick-infested animals should be avoided as it spreads the disease to other areas. Movement of sick animals is illegal and so too is the slaughter of such animals for human consumption.

Another tool that can be used to control theileriosis is vaccination and the vaccine can be sourced, when available, from the Department of Veterinary Services.

Theileriosis can be cured if treatment is administered early. It is therefore imperative that a farmer consults veterinary services as early as possible to allow early diagnosis and intervention by veterinary experts. Theileriosis responds to buparvaquone and its derivatives.

A correct diagnosis must be made as theileriosis needs to be differentiated from other tick-borne diseases of cattle that occur in Zimbabwe but which however are treated with different medicines.

Dr Brian Fungai Chikodze BVSc, UZ
Disclaimer: Dr Brian Chikodze writes in own personal capacity as a licenced veterinary officer. All views, opinions and recommendations given by Dr Chikodze are given in his own personal capacity and National Foods accepts no responsibility emanating from action that may be taken by anyone based on Dr Chikodze's suggestions and recommendations.


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