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Disease surveillance in England and Wales, October 2018

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APHA disease Surveillance report headlines

  • Significant pasture challenge from infective helminth larvae leads to heavy parasite burdens in cattle and sheep

  • Colisepticaemia in piglets

  • Egg peritonitis and Marek’s disease in laying hens

  • Update on ovine abortion

Highlights from the scanning surveillance network


Parasitic gastroenteritis

Several outbreaks of parasitic gastroenteritis (PGE) were diagnosed in APHA Veterinary Investigation Centres (VICs) in October. These probably reflect the change from the hot dry weather earlier in the summer to the milder wetter conditions that have followed in recent months, which has resulted in a high pasture larval challenge on farms.

In a case reported by the APHA Carmarthen VIC, six of a group of 60 yearling calves on a dairy farm were found dead over three days, with the others in the group reported to be in poor condition and diarrhoeic.

A postmortem examination by the farm’s practitioner identified marked inflammation of the abomasal mucosa (Fig 1) which had diffuse reddening and multifocal pale nodular lesions. A worm egg count of 400 trichostrongyle eggs per gram was identified in liquid faeces. Salmonellosis was ruled out by bacterial culture.

Fig 1: Marked abomasitis associated with ostertagiosis in a yearling dairy heiferPhotograph: Fenton Vets

The APHA Starcross VIC investigated disease in five-month-old weaned dairy calves in another outbreak. One of a group of 84 calves exhibited malaise, dehydration and collapse before death. The calves had been treated with a pour-on anthelmintic eight weeks previously.

A hyperplastic nodular thickening of the abomasal mucosa was again found postmortem, with 400 trichostrongyle-type eggs per gram identified in liquid faeces. Diagnosis was confirmed by a total worm count: 800 adult Ostertagia species and 200 immature worms were present in the abomasal content. This shows the benefit of prompt investigation of disease as it indicated a likely significant worm challenge for the remainder of the group and effective treatment and preventive action could therefore be taken.

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This report is produced each month by the APHA Surveillance Intelligence Unit …

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