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Three Day Sickness alert

By District Veterinarian Dr Lyndell Stone

Hunter Local Land Services District Veterinarians are asking producers to monitor cattle for signs of Bovine Ephemeral Fever, commonly known as Three Day Sickness, as the disease has been detected on properties in the Manning since mid-December.

The virus normally makes its way down the coast with mosquitoes 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.

At this stage cases appear to be localised to the Mid Coast and somewhat sporadic. However, this may change as Mosquito numbers rise and the virus is dispersed with mosquitos on prevailing winds.

Our biosecurity staff  have been following up on producer reports of the virus in cattle throughout December and January and undertaking testing of cattle with signs of the virus to confirm its presence in our area. This strategic testing supplements our disease surveillance programs and helps provide an early warning to other producers and regions. It also helps affected farmers as many illnesses can mimic the signs of Three Day Sickness.

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 or their private veterinarian if they notice signs of Three Day Sickness in their cattle.