A seasonal spike in the deadly cattle disease, Anaplasmosis, has been reported in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, and a Kansas State University veterinarian is encouraging producers to be vigilant in monitoring their cattle.

"Producers need to watch for it," said K-State Research and Extension veterinarian Larry Hollis. "It occurs almost exclusively in adult cattle –not calves. The most frequent observation is sudden death, even though it actually takes a few days from the time signs first appear until death occurs. If producers are not watching closely, it will sneak up on them. There is a big difference between sudden death and suddenly found dead."

Early symptoms include white skin that appears yellow and whites of the eyes that will also appear yellow, Hollis said, and dairy cows will drop in lactation.

"Treatment with a long-acting oxytetracycline (LA-200 type products) will usually stop further death losses within a week following treatment," he added. "However, producers should be careful as the simple exertion caused by driving cattle to or working them through the chute may be enough to kill more severely affected ones.  Most producers who have been feeding chlortetracycline this summer (CTC or Aureomycin) will not have the problem. CTC feeding should continue until the end of fly season."

Anaplasmosis can be transmitted any time blood is transferred from one animal to another by vaccination needles and such instruments as ear taggers and tattoo equipment, as well as by blood-sucking insects such as ticks and biting flies, he said. Producers should remember to disinfect their needles and other potential blood-transferring equipment between animals (except when giving modified live virus or MLV vaccines). When using MLV vaccines producers should change needles between every animal to prevent the disinfectant from killing the virus.