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Disease surveillance in England and Wales, November 2018

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APHA disease Surveillance report headlines

  • Bracken poisoning in calves

  • Erysipelas in pigs and poultry

  • Hypogammaglobulinaemia and other causes of death in neonatal lambs

Highlights from the scanning surveillance network


Bracken poisoning in suckler calves

Two suckler calves aged three months, which died following acute onset frothing at the mouth and passing melaenic faeces, were examined postmortem by the APHA Starcross Veterinary Investigation Centre (VIC). A total of three calves had died in a group of 22 kept on moorland pasture with their dams.

A fibrinous pericarditis and pneumonia were present in one calf and there were many petechial and ecchymotic haemorrhages throughout the carcase. In the second animal, multifocal haemorrhages were present on the intestinal serosa overlying foci of mucosal necrosis.

Mannheimia haemolytica was isolated from the first animal, which accounted for the fibrinous inflammation. The widespread haemorrhages in both carcases were suggestive of a haemorrhagic diathesis (Fig 1). Bovine viral diarrhoea virus infection was ruled out and histopathology on the bone marrow confirmed trilineage hypoplasia, which supported a diagnosis of bracken poisoning.

About this report

This report is produced each month by the APHA Surveillance Intelligence Unit and the six Species Expert Groups (livestock and wildlife). The international horizon-scanning summaries are produced by the Defra/APHA International Disease Monitoring (IDM) team, notifiable disease reports by the APHA Veterinary Exotic and Notifiable Disease Unit (VENDU), and threat analysis by the cross-agency Veterinary Risk Group (VRG). The report is drawn from scanning surveillance information, data and reports produced by the APHA Veterinary Investigation Centres and non-APHA partner postmortem examination providers contributing to the VIDA database and complying with standardised diagnostic and laboratory testing criteria. Other livestock and wildlife scanning surveillance reports may also be found at

Fig 1: Widespread haemorrhages due to bracken poisoning in a three-month-old suckler calf

The Wales Veterinary Science Centre also diagnosed bracken poisoning following postmortem examination of a 10-year-old suckler cow that exhibited tachypnoea and tachycardia, and then became recumbent before it died. Widespread haemorrhages were found throughout …

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