This disease is also known as Cowdriosis.
Heartwater is an infectious, non-contagious disease of ruminants species. It is a Tick borne disease that occurs in areas infested by Amblyomma species of ticks. Once infected, some animals may show no symptoms and act as carriers. Indigenous cattle breeds are more resistant than Exotic breeds.
How it is spread
The Amblyomma ticks that spread Heartwater require a warm and humid climate and bushy grass country for their development. The disease thus occurs in the rainy season.
Every year this disease destroys the calf and lamb crops of nomadic stockmen after their herds and flocks are moved from arid tick-free areas where lambing and calving has taken place, to tick-infested dry-season grazing.
Indigenous animals, both wild and domestic, living in the presence of infected Ambylomma ticks, often do not show symptoms when infected. Animals that are introduced from Heartwater-free areas react severely. Calves under 4 weeks, and lambs under 2 weeks, has a high resistance derived from their mothers’ immunity.
Common Signs of Heartwater
The incubation period after exposure to infected ticks ranges from 6 to 30 days. Clinical reactions in the very young are mild and are often not observed. Reactions in older animals are more severe
There is a sudden onset of fever, which remains high until shortly before death.
Prevention and control of Heartwater
In areas where the disease is common adult animals are usually immune and thus it is only necessary to immunise the annual calf of lamb crop. Animals derived from Heartwater free areas should be immunised.
To be effective treatment must be carried out in the early stages of the disease.
Author: Dr. Paul R. N. Kangethe (BVM, UoN)
Email: [email protected]