Bovine anaemia due to Theileria orientalis group (BATOG) was first detected in Western Australia in 2013 and has been present in eastern Australia for many years.
BATOG is caused by a parasite that damages the red blood cells of cattle, and which is transmitted to cattle by bush ticks (Haemaphysalis longicornis). For BATOG to occur, both the bush tick and the parasite need to be present.
The parasite may cause disease particularly in young cattle or around calving, but it does not have any market access or human health implications. Signs of BATOG include anaemia, weakness, abortions and deaths in young cattle. Animals that have not been previously exposed are most affected but many develop immunity in following years and production losses due to the disease diminish.
In 2016 to date, eight cases of BATOG have been diagnosed in WA from submissions by private and DAFWA vets to DAFWA Diagnostic Laboratory Services (DDLS), down from 23 in 2015, 11 in 2014 and five in 2013.
What can producers do?
- Report high numbers of livestock abortions or deaths to a vet so that diseases that could be a threat to WA’s livestock industries or to human health can be ruled out. Investigations into livestock abortion or high mortalities can be subsidised under the Subsidised Disease Investigation Pilot Program and may identify the cause of the illness through submission of samples to the laboratory.
- There are no drugs registered in Australia for treating BATOG and antibiotics for acute cases have generally been ineffective. Provide easy access to food and water, protection from the cold and treatment for worms, lice and other concurrent diseases and contact your private vet.
- Treating for ticks does not prevent or cure BATOG, and attempts to remove ticks from an environment are not likely to be successful.
- Once BATOG is detected on a property there is little benefit in reducing tick numbers unless they are so high that they are also causing anaemia. Ask your vet for advice on tick treatments and follow all label directions, including withholding periods.
- An abundance of infected bush tick on a property may hasten herd exposure and development of herd immunity.
More information about BATOG and the Subsidised Disease Investigation Pilot Program is available on the DAFWA website or by contacting your local DAFWA vet (if in WA).
The information above is published by WAFarmers on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (written by Dr Jenny Cotter), with permission.