Leptospirosis in the dairy industry can be devastating. It commonly causes abortion storms, and calves often die from serious illness. Infection in people is just as serious – please don’t forget that lepto is zoonotic (animal disease that can affect humans)! We can get sick if infected urine (or contaminated water) splashes into our eyes, nose or mouth, or onto an open cut, which commonly happens in the dairy shed. Flu-like symptoms develop, which often requires a lengthy time off work recovering. Bad cases can see a person hospitalized with kidney or liver failure, so it is a disease every dairy farmer needs to be protecting their workers from.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can affect a number of different animals, and cause serious illness in humans as well, which is why good control of this disease is vital in New Zealand.
Cattle, pigs, sheep, deer and dogs can all get serious disease when infected with lepto. The most common source of infection are animals currently infected with lepto, who shed bacteria in their urine. The bacteria can survive for a long time in damp environments, which is why contaminated streams and stagnant water can also play a role in its spread. Rats are also good transmitters of this disease between farms.
Control measures to reduce the likelihood of lepto infection on your farm include:
- Vaccinating all animals on farm annually – cows, bulls, sheep, goats, pigs, deer and dogs
- Strict shed hygiene for workers – wear aprons and gloves during milking, no smoking/eating/drinking in the shed, good hand hygiene
- Good drainage
- Fence off drains and waterways
- Good effluent management (let paddocks dry before stock are allowed to graze)
- Remove aborted fetuses
- Good rat control
- Avoid bringing in animals with an unknown lepto status/vaccination status
5 in 1
This vaccine is used for the prevention of major colostridial diseases (pulpy kidney disease, tetanus, black disease, malignant oedema and blackleg) in cattle and sheep.
Cattle, including calves require 2mL under the skin, followed by a second dose of 2mL under the skin four weeks later. The first vaccination can be given from 6 weeks of age.
Sheep, including lambs require 1mL under the skin, followed by a second dose of 1mL under the skin four to six weeks later. The first vaccination should be given at lamb marking.
A booster should be given 12 months after the two initial vaccines. This should confer lifelong immunity against blackleg and tetanus. Further annual boosters are required to maintain immunity against black disease and malignant oedema. Annual boosters are recommended about four weeks prior to calving or lambing to ensure that passive immunity is passed on to the new born via the colostrum.
A vet is not required to administer this vaccine.
N.B this vaccine does not protect against leptospirosis so if you use 5 in 1 for your calves, you will need to add a lepto vaccine into their programme.
7 in 1
This vaccine is used for the prevention of leptospirosis and the major clostridial diseases (pulpy kidney disease, tetanus, black disease, malignant oedema and blackleg) in cattle. It also prevents the risk of human leptospiral infection associated with shedding of leptospires in the urine and from the reproductive tract of cattle.
It can be used from six weeks of age, however if risk of infection is high the programme can be started at four weeks of age. Calves require two initial doses of 2.5mL under the skin, four to six weeks apart. A single annual booster is required (you can give a sole lepto vaccine annually instead e.g. Leptoshield). If the initial two doses are given before the animal is three months of age, a booster at six months should be given as well.
This vaccine needs to be administered by a vet.
This vaccine is used for the prevention of leptospirosis in cattle, sheep and goats, and as an aid in the control of leptospirosis in deer. It also prevents the risk of human leptospiral infection associated with shedding of leptospires in the urine and from the reproductive tract of cattle.
It can be used in calves from four weeks of age to provide early protection. Animals require two initial doses of 2mL under the skin, given four to six weeks apart. A single annual booster is required thereafter. If the initial two doses are given before the animal is three months of age, a booster at six months should be given as well.
This vaccine needs to be administered by a vet.
Lepto vaccination protocols for dairy animals and products you can use are outlined below:-
- Vaccinate spring calves in February/March (when they are about six months old) – 7 in 1 (if 5 in 1 was not used as a younger calf) or Leptoshield (if 5 in 1 was used as a younger calf)
- Booster vaccination four to six weeks later – 7 in 1 (if 5 in 1 was not used as a younger calf) or Leptoshield (if 5 in 1 was used as a younger calf)
Booster vaccination as a yearling in Autumn/early winter (to line young stock up with the herd annual lepto vaccination time) -
- Vaccinate calves from one month of age onwards (if they leave the farm early). Can be done at dehorning time – 7 in 1 or Leptoshield
Booster vaccination four to six weeks later – or
Booster vaccination in four to five months to line up with the annual lepto vaccination time -
Booster vaccination as a yearling in Autumn/early winter –
Yearly vaccination with the main herd in Autumn/early winter –
Requires one more vaccine compared with option one
- Once vaccinated correctly as a calf, cows go on a yearly booster scheme.
- They should be getting boosted in Autumn/early winter each year as this is the most susceptible time of the season to contract this disease (wettest months) and boosting lepto immunity while pregnant will ensure calves will gain better passive immunity from the dam
- Boosting in late lactation also ensures everything gets vaccinated before leaving for grazing
- Any cows coming onto your farm with an unknown lepto vaccination history should receive two vaccinations four to six weeks apart before joining the herd protocol
- Require annual boosters after they are vaccinated correctly as bull calves
- Any bulls coming onto your farm with an unknown lepto vaccination history should receive two vaccinations four to six weeks apart before joining the herd protocol
Please note that the maximum time between annual boosters is 15 months
Salvexin + B
This vaccine is used for the prevention of Salmonella (gut disease and abortions) in sheep and cattle. It also helps reduce the risk of salmonella infection in humans.
Animals require 2mL given under the skin. After first vaccination, a booster is require four weeks later, followed by annual boosters.
There are also vaccinations available for IBR, Rotavirus, Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), Pinkeye and additional strains of Clostridia (6 in 1 and 10 in 1).
For more information on these and protocols, please contact any of the clinics.