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Warning to beef and dairy farmers as three day sickness confirmed on the South Coast

South East Local Land Services is reminding beef and dairy farmers on the South Coast to look out for Three Day Sickness after a case was confirmed on a property in the Shoalhaven, with another suspected case awaiting lab results.

Bovine Ephemeral Fever (BEF), more commonly known as Three Day Sickness, is an arbovirus – spread by biting insects - and has been active in the Hunter region, but this is the first case recorded south of Sydney this season.

South East Local Land Services District Vet Steve Whittaker said affected livestock display a variety of symptoms, but generally most recover.

“Animals affected by Three Day Sickness experience a sudden onset of fever over 40 degrees, become stiff in their joints, lame and are often reluctant to move,” he said.

“They may drool, have watery eyes and a nasal discharge and infected animals will often go down.

“Cattle are typically only unwell for several days, hence the name Three Day Sickness - however, some cattle can take weeks to get up.”

Three Day Sickness is of particular concern to dairy farmers as it can have a significant impact on milk production. Heavy and high producing animals, such as bulls and pregnant cows are also among the affected.

Producers are encouraged to let their vet or the Local Land Services district vet know if their livestock display any of the symptoms. Three Day Sickness can be confirmed by a blood test. It is possible that there have been other cases this season that have gone unreported.

“It is important to watch for potential cases and give appropriate nursing care to any down animals such as food, water and shelter from hot sun,” said Steve.

“Anti-inflammatory medication relieves fever and inflammation and can assist their recovery.”

Three Day Sickness can be diagnosed with a blood test in the early fever stage of the disease and on clinical signs. Most cattle which have been infected through previous exposure to the virus develop long term immunity.

Vaccination is a wise precaution to take for valuable and heavy cattle, particularly bulls and dairy cows. Vaccination is usually given in November - December so that the cattle are protected during the high risk period in late summer and autumn.

While it is most likely too late to vaccinate for this season producers are encouraged to talk to their vet about vaccinating for future seasons.

Producers in the Shoalhaven with questions regarding Three Day Sickness should contact their vet or South East Local Land Services district vet Steve Whittaker on 0411 274 542.


Media contact: Dave Michael, South East Local Land Services, 0418 513 880