Rotavirus – act now

16 January 1998

Rotavirus – act now

SUCKLER and dairy producers concerned about Rotavirus should consider vaccinating spring calving cows now, says Tiverton vet Andrew Biggs.

He urges producers not to underestimate the virus, and claims prevention is the only approach where it has been diagnosed on farm.

"There are no classic signs and infection can start immediately after birth. A healthy calf can become depressed and dehydrated in a matter of hours.

"There is no direct treatment, but sufficient colostrum and a high standard of environmental hygiene are essential," he says.

Vaccinating cows against rotavirus one month before calving will reduce risks as antibodies are passed through colostrum to protect the calf. An oral paste can be administered to the calf if the cow has not been vaccinated.

Shropshire veterinary surgeon Clive Norrell warns that less access to colostrum and fewer antibodies in milk replacers can increase infection risks for bucket-reared calves.

"Once rotavirus is diagnosed the only realistic option is to vaccinate. Pressure on modern calving areas means disinfection and clean bedding are only token measures."

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