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Cattle producers urged to watch for Three Day Sickness

Hunter landholders are advised to keep a lookout for Bovine Ephemeral Fever, commonly known as Three Day Sickness, following the first case of the season confirmed in the region recently.

Hunter Local Land Services District Veterinarians are asking producers to contact them if they have cattle with signs of the disease after a case was detected at a property near Wingham last month.

“We would like to test cattle to confirm the disease’s distribution as the appearance of the virus is a little different this year,” explained District Veterinarian Dr Lyndell Stone.

“The virus normally makes its way down the coast with mosquitos in late summer. However this year it appeared in the Manning region without being detected elsewhere in NSW. This is a little unusual but not unheard of. The virus has been known to overwinter occasionally in the Manning and Hunter areas in the past if conditions are favourable,” she said.

“Strategic testing of cattle with signs of the virus supplements our disease surveillance programs and helps provide an early warning to other producers and regions. It also helps the individual affected farmer as many illnesses can mimic the signs of Three Day Sickness.

“At this stage cases appear to be isolated. Mosquito numbers on the coast are still relatively low so this may be limiting the number of cases and farms affected.”

“Our biosecurity staff have been following up on isolated reports of the virus in cattle throughout December,” Dr Stone said.

The positive laboratory result, obtained by a private veterinary practitioner in Wingham just before Christmas, confirms suspicions from several farms that Three Day Sickness appears to be circulating in some herds at a low level in the Manning area.

The virus causes a fever, shivering, lameness and joint and muscle stiffness. Cattle can become very sore and stiff, and appear lethargic and reluctant to walk. They may drool, have watery eyes and a nasal discharge. They may be unable to stand until the pain and inflammation subsides.

Providing nursing care to affected cattle is crucial to help the animal recover. Food, water and shelter from the hot sun are very important. Anti-inflammatory medication for any down animals can also assist their recovery.

Fortunately animals infected during last year’s extensive Three Day Sickness season should have immunity to the virus. Previously uninfected, yearling stock or cattle new to the coast are most at risk and should be monitored for signs of illness.

Producers can contact their local Hunter Local Land Services District Veterinarian on 1300 795 299 or their private veterinarian if they notice signs of Three Day Sickness in their cattle.

Media contact: Jillian Ayre - (02) 4938 4932 or 0418 960 817