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A timely reminder on animal vaccination

CalfNorth Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarians have issued a timely reminder about the importance of vaccination, particularly in light of the recent confirmation of a case of Hendra virus on the North Coast.  Animals and humans alike suffer from a range of infectious diseases and one of the best ways of preventing disease is by vaccination.

Elizabeth Bolan, North Coast Local Land Services' District Veterinarian in Casino said, "There have been a number of animal diseases diagnosed on the North Coast that can be potentially prevented through the timely use of vaccination. 

"As veterinary medicine has advanced, prevention of disease has become a priority as healthy food comes from healthy animals.

"There are now approximately 140 vaccines are registered for use in livestock and companion animals in Australia and most livestock producers make vaccination decisions on a commercial basis to protect their herds and therefore their livelihoods." Elizabeth concluded.

Examples of diseases that have been seen recently include sudden death in weaners due to Blackleg, Abortion in cattle and of course a single case of Hendra virus in a horse in the Murwillumbah area.

Hendra Virus is a potentially deadly virus that can infect both horses and humans. Vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of hendra virus infection in horses. It is furthermore an important measure to prevent human infection due to exposure to infected horses.

Clostridial diseases are caused by bacteria of the genus Clostridium. Clostridia are widespread in the environment and are normally found in soil and faeces. They form highly resistant spores that can survive in the environment for very long periods. They are also present in the gastrointestinal tract and as spores in tissues of healthy animals.

Examples of Clostridial diseases include Black leg, Tetanus, Malignant oedema and Enterotoxaemia (pulpy kidney).  Not all species of clostridia cause disease, but those that do are usually fatal. All animals are at risk of Clostridial disease, but younger animals are at a higher risk than adults.

All cattle should be vaccinated for the five common clostridial diseases with either a '5-in 1' vaccine or a '7-in-1' vaccine. Calves should be vaccinated from six weeks of age and two doses are required, 4-6 weeks apart. A booster at 12 months after the initial two doses should confer lifelong immunity against tetanus and blackleg.

Vaccination can also prevent some of the causes of abortion in cattle such as Leptospirosis, vibriosis and pestivirus.

Leptospirosis can be prevented with the use of a bivalent vaccine that protects against L.hardjo and L.pomona, or in combination with a clostridial disease "7-in-1" vaccine.   Vaccinating for Vibriosis involves vaccinating bulls with a specific vibrio vaccine, two doses 4 weeks apart and then with an annual booster.

The vaccination for Pestivirus involves vaccinating heifers and previously unvaccinated cows with the Pestiguard vaccine 6-8 weeks before joining and then a second dose 2-4 weeks prior to joining. An annual booster should be given 2-4 weeks before joining and bulls should be vaccinated for Pestivirus at the same time as cows.

Other diseases of cattle that are preventable with vaccination include Bovine Empheral fever (3-day sickness) and botulism.

If you have any queries regarding vaccinations for your animals contact your local veterinarian or your North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian or visit the DPI website for more information.

Media contact:           
Elizabeth Bolin, District Veterinarian Phone 0412 303 907

Photo caption:          
All animals are at risk of Clostridial disease, but younger animals are at a higher risk than adults.