58% of non-vaccinating dairy farms and 22% of non-vaccinating beef farms test positive for exposure to leptospirosis1. In the UK, two strains have been identified – Leptospira interrogans serovar hardjo and Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar hardjo2.

In some cases, the effects of leptospirosis can be dramatic. For example, in a leptospirosis outbreak in Ayr3, 12 cows from a herd of 160 experienced a sudden onset drop in milk production. In many cases, however, the underlying effects can go un-noticed but cause huge financial losses. These may include reduced milk yield, reduced fertility, weak calves and an increase in abortions. Leptospirosis also infects people, with cattle farmers at particular risk4 from the urine of infected cattle. This may result in protracted flu-like symptoms and, in rarer cases, liver and kidney failure5.
Risk factors for leptospirosis in cattle include buying-in stock of unknown disease status, using a bull of unknown disease status, grazing near waterways and grazing with sheep.
Vaccination remains an important control measure and continues to be effective at reducing the incidence of clinical disease6 and the risk of infection. Leptavoid®-H is the UK’s leading leptospirosis vaccine7 and the only one licensed to protect against BOTH UK strains and licensed to improve herd fertility, where infertility is caused by L. hardjo. It is important that your herd is fully vaccinated before Spring turnout because at grass uninfected cattle are exposed to the urine of infected animals. Natural service also spreads leptospirosis so remember to vaccinate the bull.
It has been found that over 60% of leptospirosis positive farms are also positive for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). For added convenience Leptavoid®-H is the only leptospirosis vaccine licensed to be given at the same time (at different injection sites*) as Bovilis® BVD, the UK’s leading BVD vaccine7. This helps to reduce cattle handling and improve on-farm efficiency.
1 – BeefCheck and DairyCheck data, October 2013 – March 2015
2 – Ellis, W.A. et al. (1988), Res Vet Sci, 44, p375-379
3 – Milk drop due to leptospirosis in dairy cows, Veterinary Record, 7 March 2015, p247-250
4 – Health and Safety Executive. (2015) Leptospirosis. [Online] Available from: http://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/zoonoses-data-sheets/leptospirosis.pdf [accessed 16/11/15]

5 – NHS Choices. (2015) Leptospirosis. [Online] Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/ conditions/leptospirosis/pages/introduction.aspx [accessed 24/11/15]

6 – UK Zoonoses Annual Report. (2014). Non Statutory Zoonoses Annual Report [Online], available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/non-statutory-zoonoses-disease-surveillancereports-2014 [accessed 16/11/15]

7 – Kynetec data MAT December 2017

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