In the aftermath of the North Queensland flood disaster in February 2019, surviving livestock can be impacted by comprised immune systems from metabolic disruption, trauma and exhaustion, which makes them more vulnerable to disease and infection of exposed wounds.
The most critical points of biosecurity in the coming weeks for livestock heath are:
Clostridial diseases (mainly botulism and black leg) Flood waters can disperse clostridial spores commonly found in some soil types. Rotting vegetation may also be a concern for botulism due to sitting water. Ensure vaccinations are up to date (i.e. 5-in-1 or 7-in-1, plus a standalone botulism vaccine)
Leptospirosis ‘Lepto’ can be spread in floodwater, which also increases the likelihood of increased numbers of infected vermin moving into sheds and feed storage. Lepto is zoonotic and spread by infected urine, so ensure you are wearing appropriate clothing when handling livestock or are being exposed to increased populations of vermin, and wash hands regularly using soap. Ensure your livestock vaccinations are up to date (i.e. 7 in 1). More information on zoonosis can be found here.
Exposed wounds can become infected. If livestock present with swelling, lameness or evidence of infection, immediate intervention is required either through care, veterinary attention or humane destruction
Biting insect populations
Diseases such as ‘three day sickness’ and Akabane are spread by biting insects. Monitor livestock for symptoms of disease, including sickness and lameness
Moisture and warmth provides optimum conditions for parasites to flourish. Ensure drenching is up to date and treat for biting flies as required.
Cattle tick You should continue to monitor livestock for cattle ticks and signs of tick fever in the aftermath of flooding and report them if found in the QLD cattle tick free zone
Spoilt hay and stock feeds These can contain harmful mould toxins and bacteria. Inspect and do not feed off-smelling hay or feed
Carcase disposal and possible contamination
Carcases will ultimately need to be disposed of through burning or burial, to minimise scavenging and spread of disease. Consider your own personal heath when handling dead livestock and do not bury dead livestock near high water tables: carcase disposal information
Toxic plants tend to get the jump on pastures after rain. Restrict access where possible or ensure there is an alternative food source to prevent livestock from browsing toxic plants
If you notice unusual symptoms of illness in surviving cattle contact your local veterinarian, Biosecurity Queensland Stock Office (DAF office)or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
Qld citrus growers develop their farm biosecurity plans at a Mundubbera workshop held by Citrus Australia Queensland Regional Advisory Committee. National Citrus Surveillance Coordinator, Jeff Milne, pictured outlining potential risks @Hort_Au @planthealthaust @DeptAgNews