Utilizing preventive methods can control cattle anaplasmosis problems, says David Sparks, Oklahoma State University Extension veterinarian.
Using good sanitation with hypodermic needles and surgical instruments when working cattle and using a mineral with tetracycline in the mix can prevent cattle contracting anaplasmosis. He urges cattlemen to check cattle frequently to see if they are healthy.
"Your local veterinarian can be of great help if you are having anaplasmosis in your cattle," he said. "The veterinarian can help design a preventive program for your location and operation."
If ticks are active in the winter where a farmer lives or if cattle are worked in cool months, using CTC medicated mineral all year can save the hard work associated with treating anaplasmosis and prevent death losses.
Anaplasmosis infection in cattle in the summer can be more serious because farming and haying operations often take the farmer away from more frequent cattle checking, he said.
"The disease progresses quickly," he said. "With each passing day, the number of red blood cells affected by the organism doubles until the animal's immune system or treatment stops its course or the animal dies."
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The most popular means of anaplasmosis prevention is using mineral mixes containing chlortetracycline (CTC). When fed at a rate of 0.5 mg per pound of body weight, CTC will prevent anaplasmosis infections.
"Make sure the product you use states on the label it is formulated at a rate for the prevention of anaplasmosis and gives the specific amount of daily consumption needed to provide that level," he said.
For problem herds or because some individuals may not consume the mineral, a killed vaccine is available in selected states like Oklahoma. It may be especially valuable in bulls, who often do not consume enough mineral to meet the CTC requirement for their body weight.
Another method to control the disease is to remove recovered animals, which may be a source of infection.
Signs of the disease include orange coloration of mucous membranes due to breakdown pigments released from red blood cells being destroyed, As more red blood cells are destroyed, animals become slow and short of breath.
"They may behave aggressively due to a shortage of oxygen supply to the brain," he said. "By the time signs are noticed, the disease is usually far along and trying to control them for treatment can kill them.
"Sick animals are about 10 times as infective as recovered carriers are, so it is important to either move them away from the herd or move the herd away from them."
If infected cows do not abort their calves, their offspring can become infected with anaplasmosis before birth, he said. These calves will not show symptoms, but will be carriers of the disease for life, he said.