Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ticks Killing Cattle, Deer, Horses in SD

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: 15 Apr 2009
Source: South Dakota GFP News [edited]

Ticks Tied to Reports of Cattle and Deer Deaths
Acting State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven says the Animal Industry
Board has received several calls about unexplained cattle, horse, and
deer deaths in an area south of Interior, South Dakota. "Local
veterinarians have worked closely with veterinary diagnostic
laboratories in attempts to reach a diagnosis," Oedekoven said. "At
this point, it appears multiple factors have contributed to cattle
deaths in that area, including ticks, severe weather, lack of
nutrition, and possibly infectious diseases." A heavy tick
infestation is a common factor in the deaths, he said.

The tick species identified from some of the cattle is known as the
"winter tick," which can be found on deer, elk and cattle. Ticks and
other external parasites can cause animals to become weak and anemic,
and can affect their immune systems. Oedekoven said cattle can be
treated for ticks, and it may be an important part of a herd health plan.

During pre-calving months, adequate nutrition is a must, as cows
expend large amounts of energy growing healthy calves and preparing
for births. Cattle pregnancies correspond to some of the harshest
winter months, another reason to ensure proper nutrition.
"Anaplasmosis, a tick-borne disease that causes anemia, has not been
identified in any of the samples collected from cattle," Oedekoven
said. "Samples from several ranches were tested for a variety of
other diseases, none of which appear to be widespread problems at this point."

Dr. Oedekoven said a request to report cattle herds with tick
infestations or unexplained deaths was sent to area veterinarians and
ranchers, but no additional reports have been received. "This
experience once again demonstrates the importance, even with disease
issues that seem routine, of getting proper samples and notifying a
veterinarian so diagnosis and any treatments are timely and
appropriate," Oedekoven said. "Anytime a producer notices something
out of the ordinary, such as increased death losses or high parasite
loads, it is advisable to contact a local veterinarian."

People seeing dead or ill deer, elk or other wildlife should contact
the nearest Game, Fish and Parks Division of Wildlife office or local
conservation officers. "We are concerned whenever there is loss of
wildlife," said Tom Kirschenmann, Game, Fish and Parks Chief of
Terrestrial Resources. "Our department has also received calls from
landowners in regards to sick and dead deer. In response, we have
worked closely with those producers and local veterinarians, as well
as the Animal Industry Board, to collect and submit samples to the
diagnostic lab in the same manner as livestock samples. We will
continue to remove sick deer reported by landowners and encourage
them to consult their local veterinarians on livestock questions and concerns."

Communicated by:

Sent: 16 Apr 2009
From: Dustin Oedekoven, DVM

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