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Landholders urged to watch for Three Day Sickness

Landholders should be on the look out for Bovine Ephemeral Fever, commonly known as Three Day Sickness. The first case of the virus this season was detected at a property near Wingham, just before Christmas.

Hunter Local Land Services District Veterinarians are asking producers to contact them if they have cattle with signs of Three Day Sickness.

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

“At this stage cases are isolated. Mosquito numbers on the coast are still relatively low so this appears to be limiting the number of cases and farms affected,” says District Veterinarian Dr Lyndell Stone.

We want to test cattle to confirm the distribution. This supplements our disease surveillance programs and helps us to give 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,” Dr Stone says.

The appearance of the virus independent of the normal movement of mosquitoes down the coast 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.

The positive laboratory result was obtained by a private veterinary practitioner in Wingham last month and confirms suspicions from several farms that Three Day Sickness appears to be circulating in some herds at a low level in the Manning.

Hunter Local Land Services Biosecurity staff have been following up on reports of cattle with signs of Three Day Sickness throughout December. However, it can be tricky to obtain a positive viral sample as the animal has to be in the first 24 hours of illness.

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