Module 10. Diseases of dairy animals

Lesson 16

16.1 Introduction

Disease has been broadly defined as any condition in which there is a deviation from health or normal functioning of any or all the tissues and organs of the animal body. Most of the diseases are caused by pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites. A pathogenic organism is one which will always produce disease in the animal body under natural or experimental conditions.

16.2 Common Diseases of Cattle and Buffaloes

1) Diseases caused by bacteria- Anthrax, black quarter, brucellosis, mastitis, Haemorrhagic septicemia, calf scours, pneumonia.

2) Diseases caused by viruses- Foot and Mouth, Rinderpest.

3) Diseases caused by protozoan organisms- Coccidiosis, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Theileriosis, Trypanosomiasis, Trichomonads.

4) Diseases caused by parasites - Round worms (Nematodes), Tapeworms (Cestodes), Liver flukes (Trematodes).

5) Metabolic and non-specific diseases

a) Deficiency diseases- Deficiency of protein, energy, Vit-A, B-complex, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iodine, cobalt, Vit-D

b) Non-specific disorders- bloat, ketosis, milk fever.

16.2.1 Bacterial diseases Anthrax (Splenic fever)

The causative agent is Bacillus anthracis. The mode of infection is by ingestion and infection from infected pasture, water, feed and fodder, and biting of insect vectors. Incubation period is 1 to 5 days. The symptoms vary according to the severity of the attack and to the species affected. The disease may occur in per-acute, acute, sub-acute or chronic form. The disease is characterized by sudden onset of symptoms and death. Foamy blood from nose and mouth is expelled and sudden death results. In acute form there is sudden rise in temperature (105°F to 108°F) , abortion in cows, bloody discharge from the mouth and nostril, blood stained diarrhoea, straining during defecation and in sub-acute form the animals die in 3 to 5 days or longer or effect complete recovery. In Chronic form the local lesions confined to the throat, swelling occur occasionally in cattle. Diagnosis is by clinical signs and confirmed by laboratory examination. No post- mortem should be done because opening or skinning the carcass result in spreading the infection.

Treatment and control

Penicillin should be given to treat the infection

(a) A Strict quarantine of the infected premises.

(b) Prompt disposal of dead animals by complete incineration or deep burial under a layer of quick lime.

(c) Disinfection of contaminated byres and stables, control of insect, vectors and other carnivores, rodents and crows that feed on the carcasses should be done.

Prevention and Vaccination: Anthrax spore vaccine Dose: Cattle, a suspension containing 10 million spores, S/c. Haemorrhagic septicemia (Pasteurellosis , shipping fever, HS)

It is a bacterial disease of dairy cattle and buffaloes caused by Pasteurella multocida. Mode of infection is by ingestion of contaminated water or feed contaminated with infected material from soil and utensil and by contact of diseased animals with healthy animals. The Incubation Period is 1 - 3 days. The Symptoms are high fever (body temperature rises up to 104 to 106°F), Swollen head, throat, dewlap and neck. The swelling is hard, hot, tense and painful. Tongue is swollen and protruded outside, salivation and difficulty in swallowing. Breathing becomes difficult on account of oedema of the pharynx. The Diagnosis is by symptoms, examination of blood smears or edema fluid for by polar organisms. Treatment and control is by sulpha drugs. Vaccination is by HS oil adjuvant vaccine (Bain's vaccine). Dose of vaccine in cattle is 2 to 3 cc i/ m. Black-quarter

It is caused by Clostridium chauvoei. The mode of infection is by ingestion of the contaminated food and water. The Incubation period is 15 days. The Symptoms are acute lameness with a hot, tense and painful swelling varying size situated usually in the hindquarter or fore limb, accompanied by high temperature. When the swelling is incised a dark frothy fluid escapes and the fluid has a very sour smell like that of rancid butter, crepitating sound on pressing the affected part of the muscle. Calves below 6 months of age and up to 3 years of age, are not usually affected by this disease. Diagnosis is based on symptoms, animal inoculation of dried piece of affected part and culturing of organisms in the laboratory.

Treatment and Control: Penicillin 10,000 IU per kg body weight followed by long acting Benzathin penicillin should be given. Local administration of antibiotics will be helpful to ease the recovery. All affected animals should be isolated. Dead animals should be promptly buried with lime. Annual vaccination is helpful in control of the disease. Prevention is by Black quarter vaccine which produces immunity for 18 months. The dose is 5 cc. S/c. Brucellosis (Contagious bovine abortions, Bang’s disease)

The disease is caused by Brucella abortus. The mode of infection is by ingestion and through breeding with infected bull. The Incubation period is about 21 days. The affected animal shows symptoms like abortion during the last stage of pregnancy. The placenta is usually characteristically altered and it is streaked with a yellowish slime and the cotyledons become flaccid and covered with creamy yellow coating. In bull, orchitis is noticed. The diagnosis is by clinical symptoms like abortion of number of cows at a time. Serological test is by blood serum agglutination test.

Treatment and control: Treatment is by broad spectrum antibiotics viz: Streptomycin and Aureomycin. Control is by removal of infected animals from the herd. Placenta and foetus should be burnt and the disinfection of infected byres, should be carried. Prevention is by vaccination with Brucella abortus strain 19 in calves. Dose: 5cc s/c Tuberculosis

It is caused by Mycobacterium bovis. The Mode of infection is by inhalation of infected droplets and by ingestion of infected discharges from faeces, milk or urine and from open lesions in lymph nodes. The disease is seen in two forms (1) pulmonary tuberculosis which is usually a chronic disease. In the beginning slight cold with a short dry cough are present. Feeding or exercise may bring on the cough. After a time the cough becomes more frequent, harsh and moist. Temperature is not usually present in early stages, later on fluctuates. In the later stages the animal loses condition, become emaciated, hide bound with a harsh dry coat. The respiration becomes more difficult. (2) Intestinal tuberculosis in which the intestines, the mesenteric lymph gland, liver, peritoneum and pancreas become affected.

Diagnosis: (1) Clinical diagnosis of tuberculosis from the symptoms is possible only after the disease has reached a very advanced stage, (2) Microscopic examination of sputum, milk, faeces, urine, etc. reveals the organisms. (3) Tuberculin test: 0.1cc concentrated tuberculin injected intradermally into the skin on the side of neck in two successive doses. In non-reacting animals there is practically an insignificant increase in skin thickness. There is no heat or tenderness and no oedema around the firm nodule left by the injection.

Treatment is by anti tuberculin drugs. Control is by test and slaughter method in which all the animals above 2 months should be tested. This is reliable method of control. Prevention is by BCG vaccine. The dose is cattle 5 to 50 mg moist weight of bacilli in an appropriate volume I/M and repeated annually. Johne’s disease (Para tuberculosis)

The disease is caused by Mycobacterium Paratuberculosis which spreads by ingestion of contaminated food and water infected with faeces. The incubation period is 6 months to 2 years. The symptoms are the animal gradually looses condition, becomes emaciated and hidebound. The appetite and temperature are usually normal. Usually the disease is more common under 3 to 6 years of age. Diagnosis is by clinical symptoms and by Johnnie test.

Treatment and Control: Streptomycin may be acting against the organisms. Mastitis

This is a condition rather than a disease of high economic importance. An acute or chronic inflammation of the mammary gland caused by physical, chemical and biological agents chiefly of bovines usually affecting the secretary cells and frequently causing total suppression of milk. A large number of microorganisms have been implicated in mastitis. They are divided into two groups: Infective group includes Streptococcus agalactiae and Staphylococcus aureus and pathogenic group which includes Streptococcus dysgalactiae, Streptococcus uberis, Corynebacterium pyogenes, Escherichia coli, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Actinomycis bovis. Infection occurs by microorganism gaining access into the udder through the teat canal. The predisposing factors may be in the individual cow or the herd as a whole. They include age of the animals, stage of lactation, milk yield, hereditary factors, trauma or injury of the udder or teats. The symptoms are:

Sub-clinical mastitis: This can only be identified by laboratory examination of milk drawn from the udder. There are no visible signs. This is also called latent mastitis.

Chronic mastitis: It is characterized by repeated mild attacks of mammary swelling, with the production of clotted milk.

Acute or severe clinical mastitis: It is usually sporadic and is characterized by rapid onset of a diffuse swelling in a quarter that has been normal previously. There is a pain on palpation. The milk is not normal in appearance. High fever and anorexia is noticed. In per acute cases fever, depression and anorexia are also seen

The diagnosis is based on the symptoms which are seen in acute, per acute and chronic cases and sub clinical mastitis is diagnosed by laboratory tests. Examination of milk samples for cells, bacteria and chemical changes helps in identification of causative agent.

Treatment and control

Antibiotic sensitivity test helps in identification of antibiotic effective against the organism. In per acute and acute cases give antibiotics both parentrally as well as locally after complete evacuation of affected quarter.

(a) Procaine penicillin Dose: 2000 units/pound body weight daily.
(b) Intra mammary infusions of antibiotic cream Viz: Masticillin M; Strypen fort; Neothion.

Mastalon may be infused in infected udder through teat cannulae.

(c) Hot fomentation may be given.
(d) Tetracycline: 1-3 g every 24 hours or 10-11 mg of streptomycin per 1 Kg body weight every 24 hour will destroy microorganism in the udder.

Control is by elimination of predisposing factors, protecting the teats from injury and isolating the infected animal. Wipe the teat with dry cloth after milking. Udder, teats and milker's hands should be washed with antiseptic solution. A cream containing 0.5% Zinc oxide may be applied on teats abrasions. Maintaining hygienic conditions of surroundings, keeping the animals clean and healthy and early detection and treatment
of all cows during drying off will be helpful Calf scours

It is an acute highly infectious disease of calves "characterized by marked prostration and profuse diarrhoea caused by Escherichia coli. Failure to receive colostrum appears to be the most important factor while Vitamin -A deficiency in the cow, over feeding of milk with high fat percentage are the other factors. In acute cases there is septicaemia and death. In milder cases they produce enteritis or combination of enteritis and pneumonia.
Treatment and Control: Use of antibiotics and avoiding over feeding of calves. Feeding of colostrum in required quantities is important

16.2.2 Viral Diseases Rinderpest (Cattle plague)

It is caused by virus .Infection occurs from infected to non-infected animals by close contact, by ingestion of contaminated water and feed and by inhalation. Incubation period is 2 - 9 days.
Symptoms in different stages include:

(A) First Stage: Rise in temperature 105° to 107°F.
(B) Second stage: On the mucous membrane of lip, gum and tongue reddened areas with pinhead vesicle are developed. There is increased flow of saliva from the mouth along with foetid odour from the mouth. (C)
(C)Third Stage: Shooting diarrhea (D) Last stage: The diarrhoea stops, the temperature falls below normal and the animal dies. The Diagnosis is symptomatic such as bran like deposit and ulcer on the lips, gums and tongues and Post-mortem examination

Treatment and Control: Symptomatic treatment should be undertaken. All the affected and in contact animals are destroyed and the carcasses buried six feet deep in quick lime or cremated.

Thorough disinfection of the premises, materials and everything that would have come in contact with the affected animals is essential. Prevention is by immunization with Avianised virus vaccine with the dose of 1 cc of 1 % Suspended live virus in normal saline. A cell culture vaccine for 6-8 months old calves to be given for the first time then repeated within 12 months. Adult cattle are vaccinated once in every 3 years. In India rinderpest was eradicated now by undertaking operation zero rinderpest projects by the Govt. of India. Foot and mouth disease

The causative organism is virus. The disease is transmitted through ingestion of infected feed and water, etc. The period of incubation is 2 to 10 days Symptoms of Foot and Mouth disease include: The first symptom is rise in temperature up to 104°F or more.

The temperature lasts only for a couple of days that is up to the appearance of the vesicles. Vesicles are commonly formed in the mouth and feet, on the udder and teats. Copious saliva secretion and rounded blisters like vesicles appear on the inner side of the lips, gums, dental pad, palate and tongue. Foot lesions develop at the region of the coronet.
Diagnosis is made by the presence of vesicles and ulcers in the mouth and feet, on the udder and teats.

Treatment: Treatment include Febrifuges: Sodium salicylate may be given; Mouth antiseptic: Wash the mouth with KMnO4 lotion 1:200; acriflavin lotion 1:5000 or copper sulphate 1 per cent solution and Foot

lotion: Should be treated with 1% copper sulphate solution or phenyl lotion and foot bath.

Control: Controls includes isolation of sick animals, Quarantine of premises, disinfection of premises and Slaughter and disposal by burial or burning of all infected materials.

16.2.3 Deficiency and Non-Specific Diseases

Balanced rations containing all the required nutrients in proper amounts and proportion will keep the livestock healthy and vigorous. In intensive large scale farms where computed mixed feed is used with limited or no access to natural forage, deficiency diseases particularly due to lack of energy, protein, minerals and vitamins are not uncommon. Proper care should be taken to correct such conditions to prevent heavy economic losses resulting from them. Deficiency diseases of animals

1) Protein: Principal Symptoms of protein deficiency are poor growth, depressed appetite, emaciation, debility, scanty milk secretion, delayed maturity, and failure of oestrus in adult animals. The deficiency can be corrected by feeding adequately balanced rations.

2) Energy: The Symptoms are very similar to protein deficiency. This can be corrected by feeding adequately balanced rations.

3) Vitamin A: Principal Symptoms include rough hair coat, depression of food consumption, excessive lacrima­tion, corneal opacity and ulceration, night blindness, xeropthalmia, (common in cattle and buffaloes), total blindness, growth retardation in young animals, convulsions and in coordination in gait, anoestrum, urolithiasis in extreme cases persistent diarrhea, pneumonia due to secondary infection.

    • Calves and lambs must get colostrum for at least three days. Colostrum is rich in vitamin A. Animals should get at least 1/2 to 1 kg of green fodder daily, which is sufficient to meet the carotene (precursor of vitamin A) requirements of animals.
    • In the absence of green fodder as during prolonged drought synthetic preparation of vitamin A like prepalin forte injections should be given.

4) Calcium: Prolonged calcium deficiency in young animals may result in rickets and in adults very rarely causes osteoporosis, as in cows yielding large quantity of milk making them prone to fractures. General symptoms include stunted growth, delayed maturity, reduced fertility, lowered milk yield, unthriftness, and fragile bones. This also results in milk fever in newly calved cows.

Treatment is by intravenous calcium infusions. Feeding of good quality roughages, including mineral mixtures in rations of young and producing stock and or use of salt brick will be effective in controlling the condition.

5) Phosphorus: The condition pica results from deficiency of phosphorus. Symptoms of phosphorus deficiency are craving for bones, licking and gnawing of old objects (known as “pica”), stiffness of gait. Fractures of bones are common. The treatment and control is by injections of tonophosphon and other phosphorous preparations and inclusion of mineral mixture in concentrate mixture.

6) Magnesium: Hypomagnesaemia is more due to a dysfunction of magnesium metabolism and the symptoms are mostly nervous i.e change in carriage of head and ear, abnormal gait, hyper-irritability, sensitiveness, tremors and convulsions.

7) Iodine: Symptoms of iodine deficiency are the enlargement of a thyroid gland and neck appears to be highly swollen. Daily feeding of iodine salt (25 g of powdered potassium iodide added to 100 kg of salt) will prevent the condition

8) Iron and Copper: Symptoms of copper deficiency are suppression of oestrus, nervous symptoms and sudden death. Control is by the inclusion of proper mineral
mixtures in rations and feeding adequate quantities of legume fodders and hays Non specific disorders

1) Bloat: (Tympanitis): All the ruminant species are affected and is generally caused due to accumulation of gas and foam in rumen. Mode of infection is due to feeding of excess leguminous fodders. Symptoms first observed are distention of the left side in front of the hip bone. This is followed by distension of the right side, protrusion of the anus, respiratory distress, cyanosis of the tongue, struggling and death if not cured. Treatment is through drenching cattle with 500 to 1000 ml mineral oil and 25 to 50 ml of poloxalene.

2) Ketosis : This is a metabolic disorder due to disturbance in carbohydrate metabolism. The cow derives energy not from carbohydrate source but from protein and fat depots of the body. This increased gluconeogenesis enhances the activity of glulconeogenic enzymes. Level of oxalo acetic acid becomes deficient resulting in slowing of TCA cycle resulting in accumulation of ketone bodies. The affected cow will show loss of appetite, reduced rumen activity, dullness, and decrease in milk production with high fat content. Animals will have unhealthy appearance with drooping nature, discharges from eyes and nostrils, dry muzzle, sudden loss of body weight. Blood glucose level is reduced to 20-40 mg per cent. Blood ketone level goes up to 100mg per cent. Urine level of ketone bodies is 80-1600mg per cent indicates ketosis.

Treatment: Administration of 500ml of 50 per cent dextrose by intravenous injection for 3 days forms the first line of treatment. Other control measures include feeding according to the production, proportionate amount of roughage in the ration, not starving or fattening. Just before parturition cutting down the ration should be avoided.

3) Milk Fever: This is also known as hypocalcaemia and is a metabolic disorder due to acute fall in blood calcium and magnesium levels possibly due to draining of the same at the onset of lactation. The condition occurs generally during the early stages of lactation especially in high yielders. Symptoms are loss of appetite, constipation and restlessness during the first stage. There will be muscular weakness and unsteadiness in movement and animal becomes recumbent with its head usually inclined laterally. The diagnosis can be made from symptoms and history of the case. Treatment is by the injection of a calcium salt in the form of calcium chloride. Calcium borogluconate injections intravenously.

The condition can be prevented by

    • Feeding balanced rations, and free access to a suitable phosphorus and calcium supplement;
    • Increased calcium and phosphorus content of feed through fertilizing the soils;
    • Vitamin D therapy may be of some assistance.
    • Maintaining calcium phosphorous ration 2.5:2 in the diet

16.3. Deworming Schedule

16.3.1 Diseases Caused By Protozoa and Helminthes: The diseases caused by protozoa and helminthes in cattle are given table 16.1

Table 16.1 Diseases caused by protozoa and helminthes

Causative agent

Causative organism




Eimeria zurni and E.bovis

Red Dysentery


Babesia bigemina and Babesia bovis

Cattle tick fever,


Anaplasma marginale and A.centrale


Theileria parva,T.mutans,

East Coast Fever


Trypanosoma evansi



Trichomonas foetus



Neoaascaris vitulorum

Tape worm

Taenia solium,Taenia saginata

Liver flukes

Fasciola gygantica and F.hepatica


16.3.2 Deworming schedule

The deworming schedule is more important for buffalo calves in which species worm problem is a major cause of calf mortality. In places where heavy endoparasite infestations are found it is advisable to deworm heifers twice a year up to two years of age. Even adult stock can be drenched twice a year once before monsoon season (May –June) and once during monsoon (August –September) with piperzines and phenovis. The recommended deworming schedule is given in table 16.2

Table 16.2 Deworming schedule for calf

Age of the calf

Deworming as per doses recommended by Manufacturers of the drug

Calf–on 3rd,4th,and 5th days

Sulmet full l dose on 3rd day and ½ dose on 4th and 5th days





1 ½ Months


2 ½ Months


3 ½ Months


4 Months


5 Months


6 Months


7 Months


9 Months




Last modified: Wednesday, 10 October 2012, 4:29 AM