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APRIL 2018
Dairy Focus
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A C C O U N T A N C Y | P L A N N I N G | A D V I C E
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in the older, home-bred stock. A profound immunosuppression
as a result of this infection can increase susceptibility to other
secondary disease processes and, particularly in sheep, tick
pyaemia. Tick pyaemia, another tick-borne disease, occurs
when the tick bite introduces the bacterium Staphylococcus
aureus, normally present on the skin surface, resulting in a
debilitating disease leading to abscess formation in muscles
and joints and, eventually, death. It typically aff ects lambs from
2-12 weeks of age and treatment involves systemic antibiotics to
fi ght the S aureus infection.
Redwater fever
Redwater fever is caused by the parasitic agent Babesia divergins,
which infects the host's red blood cells causing fever, anorexia
and anaemia. Acute cases are often characterised by pipe-
stem diarrhea, eventually leading to constipation and port-
wine coloured urine (haemoglobinuria). The drug imidocarb
diproprionate is licensed for the treatment and prevention
of redwater fever and can be administered by a veterinary
practitioner. The incidence of this disease has reduced
dramatically over the last number of years, potentially as a
result of improvements in the use of land that would once have
held high densities of tick populations.
Louping ill
Louping ill is a viral agent carried by ticks, which mostly aff ects
sheep. The initial stages of infection with louping ill can often
go unnoticed. However, in the later stages it can cause severe
depression and incoordination, often resulting in paralysis and
death. Sheep in endemic areas will often develop immunity.
However, young bought-in stock are most at risk of infection
and development of clinical signs. There is no treatment for
louping ill, although a vaccine is available under special licence.
Managing tick populations is the preferred control method.
Q fever
Q fever is caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetti and can be
a potential cause of late-stage abortion and infertility in sheep.
It is also known to cause immunosuppression which can reduce
the eff ectiveness of vaccines administered during the course
of this disease. It can cause fever, milk drop syndrome and
anorexia as well as subclinical mastitis in dairy cows.
It is a known zoonotic agent (ie. transmissible to humans)
where typical fl u-like symptoms develop such as fever, chills,
fatigue and muscle pain.
In order to restrict the occurrence of tick-borne diseases, it
is essential to control tick populations in the environment.
Reducing the ability of ticks to survive on pasture by removing
overlying vegetation, improving drainage and an avoidance of
grazing stock on deep matted pasture can all help positively
contribute to lowering tick population numbers.
One particular product licensed for the treatment and control
of ticks in sheep and cattle is Taktic 12.5% which contains the
active ingredient, amitraz.
Amitraz is particularly eff ective in tick control as it can kill all
stages of the tick life cycle. Used as a spray in cattle and as a
dip treatment in sheep, Taktic 12.5% can be used as part of a
regular treatment programme. Animals should be completely
immersed in/sprayed with the diluted solution and all animals
in the group must be treated. During periods of greatest risk,
cattle should be treated every 9-10 days while for sheep, a single
dip treatment will kill ticks and provide protection against re-
infestation for up to six weeks.
In conclusion, both climatic and environmental factors in
Ireland can greatly infl uence tick populations, thereby resulting
in a signifi cant prevalence of tick-borne diseases in ruminants.
Through a greater awareness of the clinical signs associated
with some of these diseases, together with employing the
control methods as discussed above, the cost of associated
production losses and treatment can be signifi cantly reduced.
Zintl A et al. Ticks and Tick borne diseases in Ireland. Irish
Veterinary Journal 2017; 70: 4.
The Ixodes ricinus species of tick.