Infectious diseases and health schemes

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Johnes Disease

Johnes disease is caused by the bacterium mycobacterium avium pparatuberculosis.

Cattle are susceptible to infection when they are newborn calves. The infection is mainly transmitted in the infected cow’s milk and faeces.

This is why it is especially important to ensure that milk and colostrum from Johnes-positive animals are not fed to calves, and that the areas where cows will be calving down is kept clean and free of faeces.

Unfortunately, Johnes disease is endemic across the country, and many farms will have a level of disease.

Even if you don’t see clinical cases of Johnes disease – such as progressive weight loss, a reduction in milk yield and profuse pipestream diarrhoea in animals usually four to six years old – subclinical Johnes disease could be impacting your profits by reducing the fertility and milk yield in your animals, and increasing the incidence of mastitis and lameness.

Johnes disease can be tested for in samples of milk, blood or faeces. However, the results must be interpreted with caution, as the bacteria is shed from the faeces intermittently, and the antibody levels in the blood of infected cows also fluctuates.

As such, it is important to do regular testing, so that we can build up a picture of the prevalence of disease in the herd, and to be sure that we have detected infected cattle.

Here at Penbode we have several vets accredited on the Action Johnes Scheme. We can arrange to visit your farm and discuss which control measures would be most suitable to your herd, and help you implement those changes.