Article Text

Development of a control strategy for Leptospira hardjo infection in a closed beef herd
  1. TW Little,
  2. SC Hathaway,
  3. ES Boughton and
  4. D Seawright

Abstract

Serological evidence of infection with a leptospire belonging to the Sejroe serogroup was identified in a closed population of Luing cattle in the west of Scotland, and the geographical isolation of the population presented an opportunity to control and possibly eradicate the infection in a large beef herd farmed under extensive conditions. Serological and bacteriological studies revealed that infection was present at a high level throughout the herd, and that the infecting serovar was hardjo. Unlike endemic hardjo infection in dairy herds, new infections were still occurring in older age-groups. Investigations of other domestic and free-living species sharing the habitat demonstrated that the maintenance of an endemic focus of hardjo was restricted to the cattle. Changes in management to prevent the transmission of infection to successive cohorts of young animals were impractical and risky, and antibiotic treatment followed by removal to clean pasture failed to prevent new cases. Thus vaccination offered the only means of control and possible eradication, and the epidemiological characteristics of the infection dictated that the programme be applied to the whole herd.

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