Barbers pole worm – an unusual but deadly worm in south western Victoria in sheep and alpacas

Adapted from http://www.wormboss.com.au/ Barbers pole worm – or more correctly Haemonchus contortus – is not usually a problem in south western Victoria. However, over the last few years we have seen isolated cases in spring and autumn. Barbers pole worm likes wet warm conditions and this has been the case in some recent seasons. Populations can build quickly because of the worms’ huge egg output. Barbers pole worms are large, blood-sucking worms which can quickly suck blood causing severe anaemia and rapid death in both sheep and alpacas. Haemonchus contortus The barber’s pole worm (BPW), Haemonchus contortus, is quite long (20 to 30 mm) and clearly visible. Only the adult female has the characteristic ‘barber’s pole’ appearance due to the pink (blood-filled) intestinal tract of the worm twisted around the paler reproductive tract. The male worm is smaller (around 15 mm) and pale pink. Females are prolific egg layers, laying up to 10,000 eggs per day. BPW eggs require warm, moist conditions to hatch. Once hatched, however, they develop into tough larvae that can survive for months on pastures before being ingested by grazing sheep or alpacas, where they then grow into blood-sucking adults. Adults can become arrested or inhibited inside the sheep for varying periods. They resume activity when environmental conditions become more favourable or when ewes have lowered resistance around lambing time. Clinical signs Because they are blood-sucking worms, clinical signs include: Anaemia Lethargy Failure to gain weight Submandibular oedema (bottle jaw) Collapse Death Diagnosis The only accurate way to diagnose worm infections before productivity losses have occurred is to conduct a worm test (worm faecal egg...

Why Vaccination is Critical

CHRONIC PULPY KIDNEY – Focal symmetrical encephalomalacia In December a client lost 10 out of 300 six month old lambs he had purchased a few months earlier. The farmer had been told the lambs were fully vaccinated, so no vaccination was done. The lambs were growing perfectly until just before Christmas when 2 lambs became staggery, were unable to rise and died in a few days. Luckily the farmer drenched and vaccinated the lambs with 5 in 1. When one more lamb died, we were called and did a post mortem. Lab testing diagnosed a condition called CHRONIC PULPY KIDNEY or Focal symmetrical encephalomalacia (FSE). In total 10 lambs died before the vaccination took effect. FSE is a form of enterotoxaemia caused by Cl perfringens type D in animals with partial immunity or who suffer only partial intoxication. The signs are referrable to chronic neurological damage. The disease is usually sporadic and affects animals of any age although young animals are more likely to be affected. Clinical signs Clinical signs are similar to those of a condition called PEM or polio. They include blindness, aimless wandering, circling and head-pressing. The sheep become laterally recumbent, mostly quietly but with intermittent paddling and head flexion. The course of the disease varies between 3 and 10 days, before death intervenes. Diagnosis The brain develops soft swellings which can be seen grossly but are fully identified under the microscope. Treatment and prevention There is no effective treatment. Prevention is the same as for pulpy kidney. For a A full description of clostridial diseases of sheep and cattle read the article Clostridial Diseases of...

Clostridial Diseases of Sheep and Cattle

Blackleg, pulpy kidney (enterotoxaemia), black disease, tetanus, malignant oedema and botulism are clostridial diseases that cause death in sheep and cattle throughout Australia. Other animals, particularly goats, are also susceptible. The Clostridial Family of Bacteria Clostridial organisms of various types are found in the soil, where they can survive for a very long time. In fact, when conditions are favourable, some organisms can even multiply in the soil. Most clostridial organisms can also occur quite naturally in the gut of healthy animals. They live there causing no trouble, pass in the manure of animals, and consequently, contaminate the soil. When conditions are favourable for the uncontrolled growth of clostridial organisms they produce powerful toxins (poisons). The effects of these toxins are usually fatal. Diagnosis The most important thing to do when sudden deaths of stock occur is to get an accurate diagnosis. This is important to rule out other conditions, such as metabolic diseases, poisonings and anthrax. Animals suspected of dying from anthrax should not be moved or cut up in any way. Many of the clostridial diseases can look like anthrax and so should be approached with caution. If anthrax is suspected, contact your veterinarian immediately. Clostridial diseases are usually fatal. Death occurs rapidly with pulpy kidney, black disease, blackleg and botulism, but takes several days to weeks with tetanus. In severe outbreaks, many animals die suddenly. Occasional deaths may be due to these diseases also. These are often undiagnosed. Treatment Treatment with antitoxins and large doses of antibiotics is expensive and not usually successful. Vaccination is vital to prevent these diseases. Prevention and Control The major factor...

Welcome Stacy Graham!

Nickname: Stacka, Stacer. Where were you born?: Warrnambool Base Hospital Where did you grow up: Nirranda on a dairy farm, it was the best. Education: Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing Family: Mum (Leanne), Dad (Tony), 3 brothers (Shane, Travis & Darcy) & 1 sister (Jenna) Pets: Milly a 10 year old Whippet, Zoey a 5 year old Hungarian Vizsla & Rylee a 1 year old Whippet. They are my best friends.    Sports & Interests: Netball for Nirranda Football Netball club, it’s a fabulous welcoming club. I also have an interest in horses & work for Wilde Racing on a casual basis. I love going to the races as a strapper or to have a day out. Favourite pastime: Walking my dogs. Footy team: Richmond! Favourite food: Fiesta pizza Favourite drink: My morning coffee, & Pure Blonde Cider. Favourite holiday spot: Thailand, anywhere with sunshine. What do you love most about your job?: Working with animals. Cuddling the animals in the hospital, it’s my specialty...

Case of the month – Luna the Rabbit

By Dr Olivia Down Luna a 1yr old pet rabbit presented to us with a sudden onset of complete paralysis. Luna was unable to use any of her legs andwas collapsed on her side. Her body temperature was low and she was very flat. Initially x-rays were taken by Dr Olivia Down to check if Luna had a fractured spine as this is a common cause of a paralysed rabbit. The spinal x-rays were normal which was great news as it meant Luna had a chance to be treated for other causes of acute onset paralysis. Luna was then treated for hypothermia and shock with intravenous fluids and active warming using our ‘Bair hugger’ warmer. The supportive care was successful and by later that afternoon Luna’s temperature and vital signs had improved, she was able to take food by a syringe. With the neurological examination and some advice from The Melbourne Rabbit Clinic, a presumptive diagnosis of Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection was made. E cuniculi is an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite. This parasite is carried by many healthy rabbits, with reports of up to 50% of healthy rabbits in the UK carry the parasite. Spores of the parasite invade the organs, especially the brain, liver and kidneys. Infected rabbits can become carriers and pass the infection onto their young. These spores can then become active at any stage and cause clinical disease as seen in Luna. Luna was treated for several days in hospital and slowly started to be able to move around again. She was on intravenous fluids and several medications, including a drug to kill the protozoal infection....

Caring for pet rabbits

By Dr Olivia Down Rabbits are a great pet that is fairly low maintenance.  Rabbits are particularly popular for families with children.  There are severalbreeds, the Lop Eared rabbit, which comes with floppy ears and in a variety of colours and is very popular.  The Dwarf and Mini Lop are a widely purchased breed as they are very tolerant of handling by children.  Depending on the breed, most rabbits live between 6-10 years. Housing Rabbits can be kept indoors or out.  The most important thing with keeping a rabbit indoors is ensuring that they do not have access to any electrical cords, as they are notorious for chewing through them, leading to electrocution. Indoor rabbits can be kitty litter trained which is great for cleanliness, but avoid clay kitty litter material as they can cause intestinal problems if they decide to nibble on it. Outdoor rabbits ideally need to be housed in a secure hutch, even if they roam in an exercise pen during the day.  The most popular hutch is a moveable hutch that has an enclosed area for shade and sleep, and a separate area that the rabbit can access grass to eat. These hutches should be long enough to allow them to have 3 full length bounces and high enough to allow them to stand on the hind-paws.  It is best to have a hutch that has mosquito-proof mesh as this helps prevent myxomatosis and calicivirus infections.  The best bedding is either hay, saw dust (not from treated woods) or paper material.  This needs to be very regularly changed. Rabbits are very susceptible to extreme weather...