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View the document Parasites and parasitic disease

Appendix C: Disease recognition and control

Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis)

The disease is caused by a spore which can live in the soil for many years. It is ingested in pasture, feed, or water. It may also be transmitted into a wound from brush, fertilizer or contact with another animal (rubbing; wound to wound contact), or through fly or mosquito bites. Incubation is 1-5 days. All warm-blooded animals and humans are susceptible.

Symptoms: High fever, prostration, colic, diarrhea, increased heartbeat and respiration, swellings around the throat, blood in milk, urine or mucus; upon death, lack of rigor mortis, enlarged spleen, liver, and kidneys.

Treatment: Early administration of massive doses of penicillin sometimes effective.

Prevention: Rotate pastures; spray animals with fly repellents. Nine types of serums, bacterins and vaccines are now available. There may be veterinary intervention according to the area. Quarantine infected herds.

Remarks: Carcasses and contaminated materials should be buried at a minimum depth of two meters. A disease of lower animals that is transmissible to humans.

Brucellosis (Bang's disease, undulant fever)

An infectious disease which causes pregnant heifers and cows to abort the fetus, retain afterbirth, or develop uterine infections. The bacteria are transmitted through ingestion of feed or bedding, or through licking of wounds, vaginal discharge or aborted fetus. Also affects sheep, goats, swine, horses and humans with varying symptoms and results.

Symptoms (in cattle): Aborted fetus (7-8 months); relaxed placenta, enlargement of joints and testicles, sterility, uterine infection, reduced conception rate.

Treatment: French vaccines are in experimental stage.

Prevention: Vaccinate calves 2-10 months old in areas where disease is present. Slaughter infected animals.

Remarks: The meat of slaughtered animals may be consumed if cooked. Pasteurization kills the bacteria in contaminated milk.

Blackleg (Blackquarter)

A highly infectious and fatal disease affecting cattle and sheep. Young animals are particularly susceptible; older animals develop some natural immunity. The disease often occurs regularly in the same herds and localities. The bacteria lives in the soil; it is ingested or enters the body through a wound and then spreads through the herd by way of contaminated feed (saliva or other secretions from the infected animal carry the bacteria). Incubation 1-5 days.

Symptoms: Lameness, swellings in joints, back, loin, and hindquarters (these are gasfilled lumps which crackle when pressed). Also: fever, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, depression. Death in two days after onset of symptoms.

Treatment: Massive doses of antibiotics in early stages of disease.

Prevention: Immunization of calves 1-4 months old. Afterwards, these animals are vaccinated every 6-12 months until three years of age.

Remarks: Burn and bury carcasses; the disease does not affect humans, but the meat should not be consumed.

Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia

This is a chronic respiratory disease which causes the lungs of the infected animal to fill with liquid.

Symptoms: Chronic cough, diminished appetite evidenced by irregular grazing habits. Affected animal may be too weak to move with the herd. Elevated temperature. Discharges may contain pus, blood, or be of unusually strong odor. Pinching of nostrils will induce a short, dry cough.

Treatment: No known treatment.

Prevention: Annual vaccination.

Remarks: Cured animals which have been infected with this disease do not make good draft animals. Lesions in the lungs (damaged tissues) make the animal short-winded.

Pasteurellosis (Shipping fever; sometimes called "Hemorrhagic Septicemia", but this is considered a misnomer.

The disease is caused by viruses and/or bacteria commonly present in the lungs or mucous membranes of cattle, horses and other animals. Strains vary in their ability to cause disease, but animals under stressful conditions (shipping, transfer to new environment) are particularly susceptible. Exposure, overcrowding, physical tension, improper feeding lower the resistance of the infected animal and increase the presence and strength of the micro-organism. Incubation 2-10 days.

Symptoms: Diarrhea, loss of appetite, variable high temperature, difficult breathing, prostration, discharge from eyes and nose, swelling in neck region. Can kill in 2-3 days.

Treatment: Isolation of infected animal; use of antibiotics and/or sulfonamides.

Prevention: Annual vaccination; good management and feeding.

Remarks: Newly acquired draft animals should not be trained, castrated, or dehorned in the days following transfer. Use of animals which have been infected and recovered from the disease may be uneconomical to use due to lesions on the lungs.

Rinderpest (Cattle plague)

A highly contagious virus affecting cattle. Three forms are known, two of which result in very rapid death and one which is chronic. Transmission of the disease is primarily through ingestion of contaminated food or water. Incubation 3-6 days.

Symptoms: Fever, poor appetite (slow emaciation of chronically affected animals), dehydration due to diarrhea, discharge from nose and eyes, salivation, swelling and closing of eyes. Lips, muzzle, vaginal membranes bear white spots inside a raw ring 1/2 cm wide.

Treatment: No known treatment.

Prevention: Annual vaccination; life-long effective vaccine now available.

Tetanus (Lockjaw)

This is a highly fatal disease which is usually the result of an infected wound. Bacterial infection causes the release of powerful poisons into the bloodstream. Horses and donkeys are particularly susceptible, but ruminants, swine, and humans also are affected. Incubation: one week to several months.

Symptoms: Increasing stiffness of the head and neck with accompanying difficulty during chewing and swallowing. The inner eyelid draws over the eye. After 24 hours, the animal shows extreme sensitivity to noise, becoming excitable and frightened. Spasms occur in the neck and back, the head and neck extend. The animal will not lie down, remaining standing until close to death.

Treatment: Tetanus antitoxin administered immediately after appearance of first symptoms.

Prevention: Immunization with antitoxin and annual booster. Proper disinfection of all wounds.