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Abomasal ulceration causes deaths in calves on multiple farms in Scotland

Statistics from

SRUC VS disease Surveillance, August 2018

  • Abomasal ulceration resulting in the death of suckled calves from multiple farms.

  • Diagnoses of copper deficiency and copper toxicity in lambs.

  • Atypical porcine pestivirus detected in piglets with congenital tremor.

  • Polioencephalitis due to louping Ill virus infection in a pine marten (Martes martes).

The mean temperature in Scotland in August was 0.1°C below the long-term average and it was slightly drier and cloudier than normal with 92 per cent of average rainfall and 88 per cent of average sunshine overall. The north east was the only exception, with this area being a little sunnier than average.


Toxic conditions

An 18-month-old British blue cross Holstein heifer died following an episode of thrashing and dyspnoea and was submitted to Dumfries for investigation. It was the only animal to die, although others were noted to be coughing. Very small numbers of Dictyocaulus viviparus were found in the terminal bronchi but the rumen contained a large volume of yew needles and seeds that were considered to be the cause of death. The heifers had been set stocked since April and were running short of grass. The field bordered gardens and these were thought likely to have been the source of the yew. The lethal dose of yew is considered to be between 1 and 10 g per kilogram bodyweight.1

Parasitic diseases

Faecal samples were submitted from a group of 17-month-old dairy heifers for investigation of illthrift. The group had been at grass for six weeks and the heifers were described as thin with tucked up abdomens.

Coccidial oocyst counts proved to be high at 15,250 and 17,250 oocysts per gram (opg) with over 75 per cent of the oocysts confirmed as Eimeria bovis, Eimeria zuernii or Eimeria alabamensis, all of which are considered to be pathogenic species. E alabamensis was present in the greatest numbers …

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