Leptosure – more than just vaccination.
Most farmers will know someone who has contracted leptospirosis, either in family, friends or even themselves.
Leptospirosis is easy to catch from an infected animal. For dairy farmers it is usually by way of infected cattle urine through cuts in the skin, or splashes in the eyes or mouth.
Assisting animal birth, handling membranes, kidneys or the bladder from infected animals are other ways of becoming infected. Infected pigs are also a common source of infection for humans because of the exposure to urine, as is exposure to urine from infected rats, mice and hedgehogs, e.g. handling calf feed contaminated by rat urine.
The effect of leptospirosis in humans varies from no apparent effect, to flu-like symptoms or severe illness. If the disease progresses to kidney failure, liver failure or meningitis, then hospitalisation is required. The symptoms are often prolonged and recurrent because the physical damage to the kidney and liver may remain after the infection has cleared. Some farmers who have contracted leptospirosis have ended up on dialysis due to permanent kidney failure.
In the past, the major group affected by leptospirosis has been dairy farmers due the exposure to urine splashes when handling cows. The introduction of a voluntary nationwide cattle vaccination programme in 1979 has however greatly reduced the incidence of leptospirosis in dairy farmers. But cases still occur, even in individuals working with vaccinated stock. There are now still around 100 human cases of leptospirosis annually in New Zealand and the number has been constant in recent years. It is clear that vaccination alone is not enough to prevent the disease.
Leptosure provides a risk management based approach to leptospirosis on dairy farms. Implemented correctly, the Leptosure programme will reduce the risk of contracting leptospirosis to herd owners, their families and workers.
Leptosure involves more than just vaccination. It starts with a consultation between the farmer and a Leptosure registered veterinarian. As well as ensuring an adequate vaccination programme is in place, the veterinarian and farmer together design a risk management plan that assesses and controls the other major risk areas. These include control of livestock movements, personal hygiene, education of employees, effluent management and rodent control. Issues around the management of any pigs on dairy farms are also important. There is a great emphasis on education, as it is easier to understand the control measures if you understand how the disease works.
Once the risk management programme has been implemented, the farm will be assigned a ‘Protected Leptosure’ status. The status will be recorded on the New Zealand Veterinary Association national database and will be reassessed on an annual basis to ensure ongoing compliance with the programme.
Certificates and gate plates are provided as evidence of Leptosure compliance.
If you would like to discuss the benefits of this programme further, please talk to your veterinarian.
Heifer grazing with VETPlus
At VETPlus we recognise that good heifer grazing can be hard to come by. In co-operation with select graziers we can offer you first class, veterinary monitored, heifer & weaner grazing. Heifers are weighed regularly and you will receive regular written & graphed reports of their progress over the contract period.
Payments are on a weight gain basis and a legal contract ensures the responsibilities of all parties are clearly defined. An animal health package is included to ensure that your animals get the best of veterinary care.
Dairy Farmers and Graziers can contact the Reporoa branch for further information.
In-house Faecal Egg Counting
By counting the eggs produced in the animal’s faeces, we gain an indication of the number of worms inside the particular animal. By doing this procedure in our clinic we significantly reduce the turnaround time from getting the samples to reporting the results.
Faecal Egg Counting doesn’t tell us the specific worm type (ie Ostertagia (brown stomach worm) vs Haemonchus (barber’s pole). This requires the eggs to be incubated, hatched and the larvae counted under a microscope, which takes a period of 12-14 days.
Knowing the level of worms inside an animal or group of animals enables us to diagnose worms as a cause of illthrift. We learn some of the information required to assess whether they need drenching. We can assess how well a drench has worked.
To have a faecal egg count done we require at least a good teaspoon of fresh faeces per animal. These can be collected directly from the animal/s or picked up from the ground after holding a portion of the mob in a yard or corner of a paddock. But the samples must be fresh.
If you cannot get them to the clinic the same day they must be kept in the fridge overnight.