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Actinomycosis most often affects cattle. This is a disease of a fungal nature, with which animals fall ill more often in autumn and winter during stall keeping. It is characterized by the formation of tumors at the sites of the lesion. Consider the forms and symptoms of cattle actinomycosis, treatment with inexpensive but effective drugs, diagnosis and preventive measures.
Where does the disease come from?
In cows, actinomycosis affects the lower jaw, head, neck, bones, lymph nodes, tongue and mouth, udder. The causative agents are Actinomyces bovis fungi. They are common in nature; livestock can become infected when grazing or eating hay or straw from cereals.
Fungi enter the body of cows through diseased teeth, microtrauma on the mucous membranes of the mouth and digestive tract, skin, nipples. In practice, it has been established that at home, an animal can become infected when eating roughage (sharp stems injure the tongue or mouth, fungus penetrates through the wounds). Fungus is especially dangerous for the calf during the period when its teeth begin to grow.
At the site of the introduction of the fungus, an inflammatory process begins, a granuloma grows. In the center of formation, tissues are necrotic, then fibrous tissue appears. The disease progresses, the abscesses open up and form fistulas that do not heal for a long time. The fungus also affects nearby tissues, which causes a scar to form. The pathogen can penetrate the blood vessels, with the blood it spreads throughout the body, including bone tissue, and forms new lesions.
What symptoms actinomycosis manifests itself depends on the place of introduction of the fungus, the ability of the cow's body to resist infection. A common symptom can be considered the formation of actinomics in the form of dense, painless, but spreading tumors.
Head and neck involvement
Actinomycomas can be located on the lower jaw, on the cheek, on the cheekbone, on the neck near the larynx. The bumps eventually break through (outward or inward), pus flows from them, blood can be mixed with it. If actinomycomas are located on the lower jaw, the animal's muzzle can swell and teeth fall out, saliva flows from the mouth.
If tumors have formed on the tongue, it swells, "stiffens" and falls out of the mouth. With the defeat of the mouth and gums of the tongue, the cow cannot eat and loses weight, although she does not lose her appetite. This leads to a decrease in productivity.
Lymph node involvement
An encapsulated abscess forms in the cow's lymph nodes affected by the fungus. Actinomycetes affect the submandibular, buccal and cervical lymph nodes. The tumors are dense, over time, fistulas form from them with the release of pus when an infection is attached.
In some animals, lymph nodes can dissolve, and there is a temporary improvement, but then the actinomycosis comes back again. After the abscess is opened, the animal may have an increase in temperature for a while, and the site of the lesion may swell.
Actinomycosis of the udder
Tumors ranging in size from beans to eggs are localized under the skin of the organ or in the depths of the lobes, more often the back. They open either outward or into the milk passages. In this case, their contents end up in milk. You can't drink it. The tumor is dense, painless, grows rapidly and can reach large sizes.
It is rarely observed in cows. In this case, various internal organs are affected - the liver, kidneys, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, ureter.
How is actinomycosis diagnosed?
It is impossible not to notice the tumors, at least those located under the skin, since they are not small in size. But, in order to accurately determine actinomycosis, a diagnosis is needed. For analysis, take pus from the fistula, granuloma tissue, sputum, urine, make a biopsy for histological examination. Actinomycosis is differentiated from actinobacillosis, since the diseases are similar in symptoms and nature of the course. The difference between them is that in the first case, the lesion is more often on the bones, in the second - on the soft tissues. Fungal actinomycosis should be distinguished from tuberculosis, osteomyelitis, and simple abscesses.
Zarechny Maxim Valerievich
Agronomist with 12 years of experience. Our best summer cottage expert.
In cows that have had actinomycosis, antibodies appear, they can be detected using serological tests. But immunity against the disease is not developed.
Treatment methods and prevention
Actinomycomas are painless, and therefore do not cause discomfort in cows, except for those located in the oral cavity. But this does not mean that nothing needs to be done. Most animals will not recover on their own and therefore need treatment. The therapy should be carried out by a veterinarian, it will be difficult to do it yourself. The prognosis of treatment in most cases is favorable if only soft tissues are affected, if the bones and internal organs, the treatment may be ineffective.
Providing first aid
Before starting treatment, remove the cow from the common herd and put it in a separate stall. It should be dry and clean. Treat the edema with a solution of iodine or antiseptics. You don't need to do anything else.
At the beginning of the disease, iodine preparations ("Iodinol", iodine solution, potassium iodide) are used, they are given orally and injected into the seals. If the tumor is pronounced and has been developing for a long time, intravenous fluids will be required. A good effect is given by antibiotic therapy: every day "Oxytetracycline" is injected into the formations of a bull or cow, the course of treatment is 4-6 days, or "Polymyxin" is injected once every 1.5 weeks. Usually, during this time, the neoplasms have time to dissolve. In severe cases, use "Benzylpenicillin" (for animals that are not allergic to the drug). It is important to complete the course of therapy, even if the tumors seem to have disappeared.
If a band of tumors has become inflamed, after antibiotic therapy with the use of "Erythromycin", "Levomycetin", "Tetracycline", they are excised together with capsules. In case of relapses, re-intervention will be required.
After therapy, you need to wait 3-5 weeks, if the actinomycosis does not return, we can assume that it has been defeated.
The stables of sick animals are disinfected with a 2-3% solution of caustic alkali or slaked lime. Preventive measures: cows should not be grazed in areas with outbreaks of actinomycosis, on damp pastures. If possible, steam the roughage so that the stems become softer. So there is a possibility that the animal will not prick the tongue, gums or mucous membranes and become infected. Plus exposure to temperature will reduce the number of pathogens, and not only actinomycetes, but many others.
Actinomycosis of cows is a dangerous infectious disease that affects cattle during the stall period. Animals become infected by eating hay and straw, on which there is a pathogen - a fungus. Antibiotic treatment and surgery are usually effective, but not too advanced. Therefore, you need to monitor the animals, and at the first suspicious signs, contact your veterinarian. The drugs used for treatment are available and cheap and can be purchased at any pharmacy.