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Updated: 07/29/2010 @ 1:17pm

Combating diseases like anaplasmosis is a vital part of herd management because it can quickly cut into your profit margin.

"A clinical case of anaplasmosis is conservatively estimated to cost about $400 per animal. And the total cost of anaplasmosis to the beef industry is estimated to be over $300 million per year," says Denny Hausmann, DVM, Alpharma cattle technical service manager.

Of even greater concern is when anaplasmosis, an infectious disease that is considered endemic to the southern part of the U.S., begins to infiltrate areas where producers are not familiar with or have ever heard of it.

According to Alpharma Animal Health, anaplasmosis has been diagnosed in all of the contiguous 48 states,

which means awareness and understanding of this disease has become increasingly important.

Yet a recent cow-calf survey revealed that a high percentage of producers are unclear about what the disease is. Completed by the USDA, the survey reports that:

  • 13.7% know some basics,
  • 16% are fairly knowledgeable,
  • 22.7% recognize the name but not much else,
  • 47% had never heard of the disease.

Anaplasmosis is caused by a minute parasite, Anaplasma marginale, that attacks red blood cells in cattle.

"It can be transmitted biologically through ticks and mechanically from biting flies or contaminated needles," says Hausmann.

Cattle of all ages may become infected with anaplasmosis, but the severity of illness increases with age. Calves under 6 months of age rarely show enough signs to indicate they are infected. Cattle 6 months to 3 years of age become increasingly ill, and more deaths occur with advancing age. After 3 years of age, 30% to 50% of cattle with clinical anaplasmosis die if untreated.

First symptoms of an anaplasmosis-infected animal are when it becomes weak and lags behind the herd. The animal refuses to eat or drink. Skin becomes pale around the eyes and on the muzzle, lips, and teats.

As the disease progresses, the animal may be constipated, become excited, and show rapid weight loss. It may have yellow-tinged skin and rapid respiration, which may cause producers to confuse the anaplasmosis symptoms with bovine respiratory disease. An animal may also fall or lie down and be unable to get up.

Treatment of animals depends on the stage of the disease, which include incubation, developmental, convalescent, and carrier. Aureomycin, Alpharma's brand of chloratetracycline, is the only brand approved to control an active anaplasmosis infection in free-choice feeds.

"Anaplasmosis can be an insidious-type disease, and producers should contact their veterinarian to develop a program that fits their needs," says Hausmann.

Alpharma Animal Health has recently released a booklet, Answer Book for Anaplasmosis, to help with common questions about the disease.

Request a free copy by calling 800/834-6470 or by e-mailing uscattlemarketing@alpharma.com.

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Anaplasmosis 10/12/2010 @ 10:40pm Good day, Is it just the Anaplasmosis marginale organism that is to be found in the US and transmitted by the Rhipicephalus decoloratus blue tick? Is there not R.microplus to be found, transmitting A. centrale? My question is, the illness in both forms will eventually with climate change and what was with it, become endemic to the US States as mentioned. By accepting it as a fact en implementing a system to create natural resistance to the illness via innocculation and early exposure is the best preventative strategy for livestock producers. You are also referring only to anaplasmosis or gallsickness in the single form of A.marginale, but what about redwater, also transmitted by the the same tick? OK, given, if R.microplus is not to be found in these areas, the organism will not be found. My concern is, reading the stats given, that the cattle producers are not well informed of the fururistic dangers they are facing and there is no Plan of Action in preventative actions in one of the greatest cattle producing countries in the world. It is facinating! It cannot be true!

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