Skip to content

Vigilance Needed for Deadly Mud Scours in Cattle


North Coast Veterinarians are encouraging cattle producers to be on the lookout for the disease Yersiniosis. Cases of the fatal bacterial disease, also known as mud scours have been seen on several properties on the North Coast in recent weeks.

Phil Kemsley, North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian said the bacteria Yersinia multiplies in decaying plant material in cool, wet soil.

"The bacteria Yersinia likes low temperatures and low oxygen levels typical in poorly drained paddocks and grows in dry grass material contaminated with mud" he added.

In dry conditions, cases are seen when cattle venture into muddy places such as bogs and dams exploring for food. It can also occur when feed hay becomes contaminated by mud.

Dr Kemsley explained that Yersiniosis often presents as an outbreak with several cattle in the herd affected, making it critical to identify the disease early. To help prevent further cases, cattle should be moved to another paddock, preferably one that is better drained.

Adults are usually affected, and the disease can be seen in any breed, with Brahmans and Brahman crosses being more susceptible.

“Signs of Yersinia can vary. In the early stages, cattle have a fever; this may resemble other fevers such as three-day sickness.” Dr Kemsley said.

“In some cases, affected cattle are found dead but in good body condition. Others have diarrhoea for several days, which results in dramatic weight loss.” Dr Kemsley added.

It is crucial to have suspicious cases investigated by a veterinarian as the infection responds well to treatment with an antibiotic. The period of recovery can be long, with cattle needing supplementary feed to regain the lost weight.

Yersiniosis usually stops once spring and warmer conditions arrive.

“As long as people wash their hands after handling cattle affected by the disease, it is not a threat to human health.” Dr Kemsley said

For further information contact North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian Phillip Kemsley


Media contact: Dr Phillip Kemsley District Veterinarian, North Coast Local Land Services M: 0427 896 822