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Unexplained Calf Deaths Should Be Questionned

25 May 2010

UK - The National Beef Association is advising all calf breeders to co-operate with their regional vets who are investigating the unexplained appearance of Bleeding Calf Syndrome – otherwise known as Bovine Neonatal Pancytopenia.

Little is known about this new and fatal syndrome affecting calves and there are emerging fears that many farmers are not spotting “Bleeding Calf” fatalities and as a result, its prevalence could be seriously under reported.

The NBA is surprised at the number of calls it has taken from beef producers who have lost an unusual number of calves. At first these unexplained fatalities were put down to the mother lying on the calf, or some unforeseen ailment or accident.

However after suspicions were aroused by the abnormal number of calf deaths, farmers took dead calves in for a post mortem and the cause of death was found to be Bleeding Calf Syndrome. Calves were found to have severe internal bleeding, although there had been no signs of external bleeding from the mouth, nostrils, anus, eyes or other openings.

The only way to find out just how prevalent this disease is, and what is causing it, is for all farmers to take advantage of the free post-mortem service offered by the VLA, Royal Dick and SAC and make sure calves that have died suspiciously, are taken to their regional laboratories.

Affected calves can have a persistent fever with bleeding from the nose, gums, ear-tag holes and injection sites, but could just as easily be found suddenly dead and at post mortem seen to have suffered severe internal bleeding. It is not known what causes this bleeding but poisoning, genetic abnormality, colostrum feeding, the presence of a new pathogen and drug reactions are being considered.

In Germany, where over 2,000 cases have been reported, Pfizer has volunteered to withdraw its anti-BVD drug, PregSure, so a control area can be established and results from regions where PregSure is used, and not used, can be compared.

At this stage there are no indications that PregSure can trigger Bleeding Calf Syndrome and there is no restriction on sales of PregSure in the UK and no label warnings have been added.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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