Bob Judd, DVM, DABVP (Equine Medicine), DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice)
Anaplasmosis, an infectious, tick-borne disease of cattle that causes anemia, abortions, and death, is a major concern in the cattle industry. Currently, there is no vaccine available, but one is being tested to prevent this disease. Researchers at Kansas State University and the Department of Agriculture published a study that they say was the first in addressing the urgent need to develop a vaccine against the disease.
Dr. Roman Gantra, M.Sc., Ph.D., said an innovative approach was needed to develop this vaccine. Anaplasmosis has major economic concerns in the United States and around the world, as losses from the disease are in the billions of dollars annually.
The disease can be spread by mechanical transmission from over 20 different tick species and can also be transmitted mechanically by using the same needles or equipment on different cattle. The disease causes the destruction of red blood cells, causing anemia in the animal, which usually includes an increase in temperature.
Infected cattle become weak and lag behind the herd, refuse to eat and drink, and the skin around the eyes and on the muzzle, lips, teats, and mucous membranes becomes pale. Some cattle will develop a yellow coloration of the skin called icterus due to red blood cell destruction, rapid weight loss, excitement, and constipation.
Cattle will either die or begin recovery in 1-4 days after clinical signs. Dr. Zerle Carpenter, Ph.D. of Texas A&M University, said that it is not recommended to treat affected cattle unless it is in the very early stage of the disease because the stress of treatment can be deadly, and antibiotics are not very effective in later stages.
Carrier cattle with the disease can remain infected their entire lives and be a source of transmission of the disease. For this reason, the development of a potential vaccine for anaplasmosis is very exciting. Ask your veterinarian for current information about the development of the vaccine for anaplasmosis disease and updates on when it may become available for your cattle operation.