Case report – a complex case in Central Australia

A property south of Tennant Creek experienced some unusual illness and deaths in replacement herd bulls and then weaners during December and January.

Signs included muscle trembling and stumbling during muster, runny noses and eyes, diarrhoea (black and/or watery scours), and animals that and were depressed and slow to move.

The Government Veterinary Officer and Livestock Biosecurity Officer took a number of samples from sick and dead cattle across a number of property visits.

No single disease was pinpointed as the cause of disease this case. It is likely that a number of factors were involved, including

  • Prolonged dry weather in 2019 which meant a lack of roughage and the prolonged, extreme heat in October to January
  • An increase in insect activity following recent rain could have led to infection with three day sickness which tipped some animals over the edge
  • Poisonous plants- such as Senna artemisoides (also known as senna or cassia), which contains an unidentified muscle toxin and may cause diarrhoea and muscle damage, and cycad/zamia.
  • Potential Vitamin A deficiency within the herd due to lack of green feed.

Image credit: FloraBase WA

Credit: FloraBase WA

Last updated: 28 September 2020

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