5 January 1996

Killer fever hits north

MALIGNANT catarrhal fever has broken out in several dairy herds and has killed of 20 animals on one farm in northern England.

The virus, for which there is no cure, kills cattle within 48 hours. It is carried by lactating ewes, though they show no signs of the disease, and can be passed to cattle sharing the same air space.

Actual contact is not necessary but cattle suffering from the fever are not infectious. Early signs are heavy nasal breathing and a high temperature. Dairy farmers carrying flocks of lambing ewes are being warned not to house sheep and cattle in the same building.