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Three Livestock Diseases and How to Prevent and Manage Them

Livestock health is closely connected to the health of an operation. An outbreak of disease on your farm can not only affect your animals, but also your bottom line and even the health of your employees.

Maintaining animal health is essential to the longevity of your business, making it all-important for you to understand how to take preventive actions and manage outbreaks when they occur. The following list of common and potentially devastating diseases provides recommended processes you can implement to promote the health and wellness of your farm for years to come.


Foot and Mouth Disease

Livestock diseases do not usually transmit to different species, but the virus that causes foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) can infect almost every kind of livestock and is even transmissible to humans. Symptoms of FMD include blisters and ulcers on the tongue, nose, mouth and toes in addition to high fevers and lameness.

Containing an FMD outbreak can be risky and difficult, but the prevention and management measures described below can help if the virus strikes your operation.


Biosecurity measures and safety precautions should be practiced at all times on every farm to prevent infection. Movement of animals and animal products should be stopped in the affected area if the virus detected. The American College of Veterinary Pathologists suggests prevention can also include controlling the importation of animals and animal products, proper decontamination and disposal of garbage.


Unfortunately, with FMD, there is no clear or exact treatment to follow. Fortunately for the those affected by this infectious disease, they can recover with time. If you suspect an animal may have FMD, isolate them immediately and provide them with ample time to recover before reintroducing them to the herd. This can help slow or even stop the spread of disease.


Porcine Reproductive & Respiratory Syndrome

The entire pig industry can be affected when an outbreak of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) occurs. PRRS includes reproductive failure, pneumonia and susceptibility to bacterial infections. According to the World Organization for Animal Health, PRRS costs the United States $560 million each year.


Monitoring the health and wellness status of each pig and boar is necessary for absolute prevention. Testing for the virus every two months and properly isolating incoming stock at a separate facility before entry to the herd can help prevent an outbreak on the farm. An effective commercial vaccine for PRSSA is also available to prevent infection.


In addition to the vaccine, a few other treatment options can help manage an outbreak after it begins. These include providing antibiotics, extra warmth and electrolytes for dehydration.


African Swine Fever

The complexity of African Swine Fever (ASF) varies depending on the environment. ASF can affect both farm-raised and wild pigs and is often contracted through contact with infected wild pigs, ingestion of contaminated material or attack by soft ticks and vectors. The most common way ASF is spread is through contact with an infected pig’s bodily fluids.


Much like the prevention of FMD, effective biosecurity measures can help stop an ASF outbreak before it happens. Proper disposal of waste food imported from affected countries is necessary.  Policing illegal imports of live pigs and pork products from other countries is also important to ensure complete protection from ASF.


Correct and frequent sanitation is required when controlling an outbreak of ASF. Other measures include early detection, quarantine and depopulation (with proper disposal) of affected animals. Unfortunately, there is not an approved vaccine for ASF.

Protecting and sustaining the health of your livestock will greatly benefit your operation. For extra protection, view James Allen Insurance’s Foreign Animal Disease Policies.

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