If you think education is expensive you should try ignorance, goes the old adage. In animal health, the generic form of this adage states that if you think vaccination is expensive, then try disease. Many dairy farmers continue to suffer huge losses as a result of diseases that are 100 per cent preventable. Vaccination remains a very important tool in disease control. It entails challenging the body with a killed or attenuated disease-causing organism so as to stimulate immunity against any attack from that organism. Sick animals should never be vaccinated. Traditionally, only viral diseases were vaccinated against. Today, there are vaccines that provide immunity against bacterial and protozoal diseases. In this article, we look at diseases that dairy farmers should consider vaccinating against.
Farmers should consult veterinarians when designing a vaccination programme because it is he/she who understands the endemic and most prevalent conditions in a specific area and time.
1 Foot and Mouth disease
FMD, as it is commonly abbreviated, will feature in almost all vaccination programmes. It is a very contagious viral disease of cattle. It is caused by seven serotypes abbreviated as O, A, C, SAT 1, SAT 2, SAT 3and Asia. Infection with one serotype does not confer immunity against the other. The good news is that there are composite vaccines that contain more than one type. FMD is a notifiable disease and, therefore, any case must be reported to the nearest veterinary services office. Vaccination should be carried out every six months.
2 Lumpy skin diseases.
Lumpy skin diseases (LSD) is another notifiable disease that can wreak havoc on your dairy enterprise. Unlike FMD, it is not very common in vaccination programmes. It manifests itself with fever, nodules on the skin and mucous membranes and enlarged lymph nodes. It is transmitted by biting insects. Annual vaccination is recommended.
3 Rift Valley diseases.
It is a zoonotic viral disease transmitted by mosquito bites. Its occurrence is seasonal and is associated with heavy rains. Characteristically, it produces abortions in pregnant animals and death in new-borns. Humans get infected from handling infected materials and from mosquito bites. Strategic vaccination is recommended but should be done at least one month before the season when outbreaks are expected to occur.
4 East Coast Fever
It is a protozoal, tick-borne disease of great economic importance. After many years of losses, there is now a vaccine that imparts lifelong immunity. This is a more cost effective approach than the rigorous and costly tick control strategy.
5 Other diseases
Vaccination is made with the understanding of the risk diseases and conditions. Blackquater, Anthrax, Leptospirosis and other diseases can be checked by your veterinarian