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(Newsrooms: Part III of three-part series on neonatal mortality)
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – With calving, lambing and kidding seasons in full swing, livestock
producers should be mindful of diarrhea, commonly called scours in livestock, says
Dr. David Fernandez, Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist at the University
of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
While scours may not sound serious, especially to new livestock producers, young animals
are especially susceptible and can die quickly because of rapid dehydration if scours
is left untreated, warns Dr. Fernandez. Scours can cause rapid loss of fluids and
electrolytes. Young animals may have a hard time getting enough energy because they
cannot absorb nutrients. Provide supportive therapy by giving plenty of fluids, oral
or injectable electrolytes and glucose or dextrose.
Scours is caused by a variety of organisms – bacterial, viral and microscopic parasites.
“Each must be treated differently,” says Dr. Fernandez. Bacteria, such as E. coli can cause watery, yellow scours. Clostridium perfringins releases a toxin whose first sign may be death. Otherwise, sluggishness, abdominal
pain and swelling and bloody diarrhea can indicate clostridial scours.
Bacterial scours can be treated with antibiotics. Your veterinarian can help you decide
which one would be most effective. Vaccines for E. coli and C. perfringins can be given to adult animals about 30 days before they give birth.
Viruses also cause scours in young animals. Rotoviruses usually cause only a mild
case that clears up in a day or two. Coronaviruses take longer to clear up and are
more serious. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses. Instead, vaccinate adult animals
so they pass their antibodies to their young in the first milk, called colostrum,
advises Dr. Fernandez.
Protozoa, such as coccidia and cryptosporidia, are microscopic parasites that invade
and damage the intestinal wall. The damage prevents young animals from absorbing nutrients
and causes bloody scours. Certain types of cryptosporidia can be transmitted to humans
so Dr. Fernandez advises wearing gloves if ranchers suspect their animals of cryptosporidia.
Both coccidia and cryptosporidia are most commonly seen where hygiene is poor. Keeping
birthing areas clean and dry can help eliminate outbreaks. Coccidiosis can be treated
with sulfa-antibiotics such as sulfaquinozaline or sulfamethazine, or Amprolium (Corid®) which blocks the ability of the protozoa to use thiamine. This can cause a thiamine
deficiency in goats so they should receive a thiamine injection when using Corid®.
Young animals suffering from repeated bouts of scours fail to gain weight thus increasing
medical expenses. Prevent scours by vaccinating cows, ewes or does and by keeping
birthing areas clean and dry.
More on scours is in the Livestock Health Series Calf Scours fact sheet, FSA3038 by
Extension Veterinarian Jeremy Powell at http://www.uaex.uada.edu/publications/pdf/FSA-3083.pdf
By Carol Sanders UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
Media Contact: Carol Sanders (870) firstname.lastname@example.org