Thursday, 02 November 2023 13:55

Keeping leptospirosis at bay

Written by  Staff Reporters
Leptospirosis is contracted most through exposure to the urine of infected animals, either through direct contact or via contaminated water. Leptospirosis is contracted most through exposure to the urine of infected animals, either through direct contact or via contaminated water.

Leptospirosis (lepto) is a disease caused by bacteria that can be spread from animal to human, otherwise known as a zoonotic disease.

The impact lepto can have on farm is devastating, with severe flu symptoms in humans and in some cases debilitating illness requiring hospitalisation. A recent survey conducted by Massey University showed that half of those affected were still experiencing symptoms a staggering eight months after diagnosis.

Leptospirosis is contracted most through exposure to the urine of infected animals, either through direct contact or via contaminated water. The bacteria enter through cuts or grazes on our skin, or through the mucous membranes of our eyes, nose and mouth.

There are different types of lepto, with cows often showing no clinical signs. This means that working with dairy cows can pose a significant risk for contracting lepto, so preventing exposure is vital.

Since the 1970s, the industry has had access to highly effective cattle vaccines, which have reduced the rate of human infections dramatically. Unfortunately, in recent years there have been cases of lepto in farmers and staff (including teat sealing technicians) working on vaccinated farms, many of which are thought to be due to a newly discovered strain of lepto within dairy herds. This new strain, known as Pacifica, wasn’t covered by the traditional dairy cattle lepto vaccines. Recent research suggests Pacifica could be present in almost three quarters of dairy herds nationwide.

A new vaccine, Lepto 4-WayTM, has recently been developed to provide protection against the emergence of Pacifica as well as the 3 strains (Hardjo, Pomona & Copenhageni) previously covered by your traditional vaccines. Upgrading to Lepto 4-WayTM will likely mean a change to current lepto vaccination schedule for 2023/2024 - your vet will discuss this with you.

While vaccination is an integral part of lepto management plan, strict health and safety on farm remains paramount to protect the farmer and his team.

“You should always stand clear of urinating cows, effluent spraying, cover up any cuts, and avoid eating, drinking or smoking/vaping in the pit. Rats and mice can carry other strains of lepto, so good pest control and avoiding possible contact with rodent urine is also important.

“Because lepto survives well in water, care should be taken around surface water and flooding after rain events - effluent ponds and spreaders can also be a risk. And because lepto can be treated with antibiotics you should always see a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have been infected.

“A case of lepto could have a huge impact on your team at a time you can least afford it.

“Prevention is critical, so staff education and upgrading your vaccine to Lepto 4-WayTM means you have done all you can to ensure the health and safety of you, your family and anyone who works on your farm.”

Article supplied by Virbac. Lepto 4-WayTM is a Restricted Veterinary Medicine. Available only under Veterinary Authorisation. Registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997, No. A012030.

More like this

Farmers fined for cattle abuse

A Waikato cattle farming family have been fined $23,000 for failing to provide sufficient food and care for their animals, resulting in more than half a dozen animal deaths.

App trial yields promising results

An initial trial of an app, funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, has demonstrated significant results in reducing drench inputs during a small-scale study.

Setting calvers up for a top season

Ensuring autumn calvers are receiving a balanced ration of macro and micro minerals will go a long way to setting them up for a successful season.

Busybrook obsession pays off

The numbers suggest the cow families on offer at the upcoming Busybrook Holsteins sale in North Otago are as good as you’ll find anywhere.

Featured

Learnings from tractor incident

A near miss experienced by a North Island farmer worker when their tractor ‘park’ gear failed, has been shared as the latest Safety Alert from Safer Farms.

Frontline biosecurity 'untouchable'

Biosecurity Minister Andrew Hoggard has reiterated that 'frontline' biosecurity services within Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will not be cut under the Government's plan to reduce the public service.

Migrant farmer 'lets the side down'

An appalling case of migrant worker exploitation on a Southland farm isn't acceptable, says Federated Farmers dairy chair Richard McIntyre.

Milk price certainty

Westland Milk has reaffirmed its commitment to pay farmer suppliers 10c above Fonterra farm gate milk price for the following two seasons.

National

Share farmers with big plans

With only about eight weeks to go before their cows are dried off, the 2024 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards Share…

Team effort brings results

For the team at Westmorland Estate Limited in Waikato, it has been another year of everyone working together to achieve…

Machinery & Products

New name, new ideas

KGM New Zealand, is part of the London headquartered Inchcape Group, who increased its NZ presence in August 2023 with…

All-terrain fert spreading mode

Effluent specialists the Samson Group have developed a new double unloading system to help optimise uphill and downhill organic fertiliser…

Can-Am showcases range

Based on industry data collected by the Motor Industry Association, Can-Am is the number one side-by-side manufacturer in New Zealand.

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Exploited by one of their own

OPINION: Milking It believes a recent Employment Relations Authority ruling on the exploitation of three migrant workers from Indonesia highlights…

'Not our fault!'

OPINION: Milking It wasn’t too surprised to hear Kiwis’ trust in media has sunk to a new low.

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter