Report Abortions and Premature Calving

UK - Farmers are reminded that bovine abortions and premature calving must be reported.
calendar icon 6 January 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Great Britain has been officially free of brucellosis since 1985. However, the threat of re-introduction of the disease is a concern and farmers are encouraged to keep monitoring their herds and must report any bovine abortions to their vet.

Northern Ireland and parts of Europe still have cases of brucellosis and, despite pre- and post-import testing, there is still a risk of animals in the early stages of infection entering the country – isolated outbreaks in Britain over the last six years highlight the need for continued vigilance. If Great Britain lost its brucellosis-free status, it would jeopardise trade in live animals and be a cause of disease and economic loss on farms.

Brucellosis is a disease caused by a bacterium that affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, where the main symptoms are abortion and infertility. The organisms are present in the foetus, uterine discharges and in milk and will spread rapidly if undiagnosed.

Farmers must report to a vet every bovine abortion or premature calving that takes place less than 271 days after service, or 265 days after implantation or transfer of an embryo, whether the calf is born dead or alive. Testing is free and compensation will be paid to the farmer if brucella infection is confirmed.

Humans can additionally become infected with other diseases by handling aborted foetus or birth products from infected animals. Brucellosis can also be contracted by drinking unpasteurised milk from infected animals. Occasional human cases occur in the UK and the symptoms may include flu-like illness and/or persistent headaches. Individuals who may have been exposed to materials from abortion, occupationally or abroad, should seek medical advice if they suspect infection.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on brucellosis by clicking here.

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