Anaplasmosis In Cattle

A disease called anaplasmosis is causing millions of dollars of economic losses to the cattle industry. The anaplasma parasite infects the red blood cells and causes severe anemia. For almost all animals, it’s fatal. It’s commonly spread by ticks and horseflies and is the most prevalent tick disease of cattle worldwide.

Teresa Steckler is an Extension educator of commercial agriculture at the University of Illinois, and studying the disease on the behalf of the Illinois Beef Association. She says based on what cattlemen are telling her and looking at the cattle in the chute, she doesn’t think ticks are the main vector at this point in time.

"We’ve had what appears to be an uptick in the number of big black horseflies, and the small green-eyed horseflies then they will go from animal to animal to animal," says Steckler. "So, that is what I suspect is causing an increase in prevalence, at least in the last several years."

Affected cattle will be lethargic, laying down, have hard feces, hanging back from the feed bunk, and some may even be aggressive. Steckler says anaplasmosis can be treated with an antibiotic when caught early, but prevention is key.

"Currently the best mode of prevention is to one, spray your animals to keep the biting flies off," she says. "Secondly, there is CTC, or chlortetracycline that’s put in the mineral. Cattle need to eat the CTC on a daily basis and get the recommended dose."

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