BAHA issues advisory for Rabies and Blackleg for cattle farmers

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

All that delicious beef that meat lovers enjoy eating may be in jeopardy due to a disease affecting cattle countrywide. An advisory has been issued to all livestock producers, and it strongly recommends farmers to vaccinate their livestock against “Rabies and Blackleg” disease.Cattle 1

It has been an ongoing cattle disease threat throughout the country and thus, the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) is advising that if farmers have not vaccinated their cattle in the last year against Rabies or against Blackleg in the last six months, they must do so now.

Beef is a common staple on Ambergris Caye and knowing a bit about these diseases that are affecting the suppliers of this delicacy is important for everyone. BAHA personnel have been visiting the main beef suppliers in the country to do inspections in order to avoid the disease from reaching your plates.
What are these diseases capable of?
According to BAHA, Rabies is a highly fatal disease that affects all mammals, but it can be prevented through vaccination. When an animal is affected by the disease, it will usually show nervous signs and become aggressive. Another symptom is excessive salivation and swallowing becomes impossible. BAHA advices everyone to avoid contact with animals showing these symptoms and to immediately contact them.
On the other hand, Blackleg is a silent killer that mainly affects young cattle. In a report that BAHA recently issued, it explains that in most cases, the animal is found dead without having shown any signs of being previously sick. Treatment to combat the disease is, most of the times, useless, since the disease is very aggressive. It is known that the culprit is the spore forming, rod shaped, gas producing bacteria scientifically known as Clostridium chauvoei. The spores of this organism can live in the soil for many years, and since most of the time cattle are grazing, their contact with the soil contributes to them getting infected with the disease.

The first sign observed is usually lameness; loss of appetite, rapid breathing, and usually the animal will be depressed, with a high fever. Additionally, swellings develop in the hip, shoulder or elsewhere on the animal’s body. The swelling can be hot and painful and begins in a small area of the body, but as it progresses, it enlarges and the area becomes spongy and gaseous. With treatment having little effect, the animal usually dies in 12 to 48 hours.
Nevertheless, Blackleg is almost entirely preventable by vaccination. The most commonly used clostridia vaccine in cattle is the 7-way type, which protects against seven types of clostridia organisms. This vaccine is available at most farm supply stores countrywide.
Furthermore, information can be obtained from livestock officers at the Department of Agriculture in the districts, BAHA animal health officers, Belize Livestock Producers Association and registered veterinarians as well.

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