Update On Bleeding Calf Syndrome

UK - National Farmers' Union Scotland (NFUS) is suggesting livestock farmers contact their local vets about the small, but growing number, of Scottish calves thought to have died from a new condition known as Bleeding Calf Syndrome.
calendar icon 29 April 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Although under review, NFUS is reminding farmers and vets that SAC currently provides a free post mortem service for those calves thought to have the condition and urges producers to discuss any unexplained calf deaths with the experts. Since April 2009, SAC has carried out post-mortems on a number Scottish calves, from both beef and dairy herds, that have suffered from the syndrome, known formally as Bovine Neonatal Pancytopenia (BNP). Last year, SAC confirmed 48 cases of BNP on 35 farms in Scotland. So far in 2010, there have been fewer than 30 new Scottish cases confirmed but fresh cases are under test.

Around Europe, BNP cases now exceed 2000 and significant resources in Scotland and elsewhere are being directed towards investigating the possible factors behind the syndrome, the disease traits and establishing if treatment is possible.

A feature of the investigations to date is that many affected calves were from herds vaccinated against another disease, Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). No direct causal relationship between BVD vaccination and BNP has been established and experts from across the EU have concluded that there may be many factors involved in BNP.

In recent correspondence issued by animal health firm, Pfizer Animal Health it states that from currently available data, where this syndrome has been reported, it has appeared statistically more frequently, although not exclusively, on farms with a history of vaccination with the Pfizer product, PregSure BVD, than on farms using other BVD vaccines or those using no BVD vaccinations at all. Pfizer has recently taken the decision to voluntarily stop selling PregSure BVD in Germany, the country with the highest incidence of BNP cases.

The Union continues to discuss the disease with Scottish stakeholders, including Scotland’s Chief Veterinary officer, SAC, Moredun Research Institute and the British Veterinary Association in Scotland. It met privately with Pfizer representatives late in 2009 and continues in discussions with the company.

NFU Scotland Vice-President Nigel Miller, a Borders livestock farmer and a qualified vet said: "The development of this condition in calves is a concern for all cattle keepers and it is important that we continue to play our part in helping the industry establish what is behind this worrying and disturbing disease. Beef and dairy farmers should keep an eye out for unexplained deaths in any young calves, in particular for signs of persistent bleeding and if they think they have affected animals, to contact their own vet or their local investigation lab and make use of the available post mortem services.

“It is in the interests of all livestock farmers that we assist the vets and researchers in tackling this syndrome now. Similarly, if a farmer has concerns over the disease and any implications that it may have for his current herd health plans or vaccination strategies, then it would be worthwhile talking these through with the vet before considering any changes.

“The reaction of the Scottish industry to Bleeding Calf Syndrome highlights some of the great strengths that we have here in Scotland. At an early stage, we have the involvement of SAC, veterinary investigation labs, vet schools, private vets and Moredun leaving Scotland well placed to feed into the European effort looking to shed light on Bleeding Calf Syndrome, its problems and the potential answers.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

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