Beef cattle health concerns during and after flooding conditions

What Is a Veterinarian-ClientPatient Relationship (VCPR)?

A VCPR is present when all of the following requirements are met:
1. The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the livestock and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian's instructions. 
2. The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the livestock to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the livestock. This means that the veterinarian is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the livestock by virtue of a timely examination of the livestock by the veterinarian or medically appropriate and timely visits by the veterinarian to the operation where the livestock is managed.
3. The veterinarian is readily available for followup evaluation or has arranged for the following: veterinary emergency coverage and continuing care and treatment. 
4. The veterinarian provides oversight of treatment, compliance and outcome. 
5. Patient records are maintained.
During a major flood, soil particles and trash can be moved for miles. Listed below are some diseases a cattle producer may be concerned with due to excep tional flooding conditions. Because of this unique situation, working with your veterinarian is very important.
Hardware Disease
Hardware disease is produced when a sharp object pierces the stomach wall. A sharp object, such as a nail or piece of wire, may perforate into the heart sac. The object lies originally in the reticulum. The reticulum "catches" all heavy objects that are ingested. When muscles contract, the "hardware" may be forced through the wall of the reticulum, diaphragm and heart sac.
Symptoms may include poor appetite, depression and reluctance to move. Cattle seem to have indigestion and show signs of pain when defecating. If perforation of the heart has occurred, fluid, due to infection, may accumulate around the heart and produce abnormal heart sounds. The brisket may be quite flabby due to a large amount of fluid. The cow may also be bloated. These symptoms may subside or disappear within one to seven days but may reoccur.
Walk pastures looking for nails, metal pieces and other items cattle might ingest. Remember, metal pieces may become baled and fed to cattle in the wintertime. Therefore, hardware disease may not become apparent until the winter months.
Blackleg (Clostridium chauvoei)
Blackleg begins when the susceptible animal ingests the endospores which are found primarily in the soil. Although blackleg has occurred in calves as young as two months of age, the disease generally affects animals between six months and two years of age. Occasionally, losses may be seen in adult cattle. Blackleg infections typically occur during the late summer and early fall, and blackleg usually affects rapidly growing calves.
Typically, animals infected with blackleg die rapidly without any signs of illness. However, clinical signs that may be noted very early in the disease include lameness, loss of appetite, fever and depression. Animals quickly die within 12 to 48 hours after contracting the disease. Although treatment usually fails, appropriate doses of penicillin may prove helpful. If an animal does survive, it will likely suffer from a permanent deformity. Prevention of blackleg is best accomplished through routine vaccination.
A pathogen that can be highly fatal in young calves is Clostridium perfringens type C, also known as enterotoxemia or purple gut. It is usually seen in calves less than 30 days old. Clostridium perfringens type C is a normal inhabitant of the gastrointestinal tract but only causes disease under certain circumstances. The clinical signs produced by Clostridium perfringens type C are due to its release of an enterotoxin. This disease has a sudden onset, and some calves will die without showing any symptoms.
The specific condition commonly associated with enterotoxemia is a sudden increase in the calf's dietary intake. Therefore, if management practices (penning the cows separate from the calves) or weather cause an increase in the interval between meals, a calf may overconsume milk and thereby establish the proper environment for the bacteria to grow. Clinical signs include weakness, abdominal distention, bloody diarrhea, uneasiness (straining or kicking at abdo - men) and convulsions. Postmortem lesions normally seen are bloody, fluidfilled small intestines that give rise to the common name "purple gut." Vaccination of cows before calving will improve passive immunity via colostrum to protect calves early in life.
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria that are well suited for wet, moist environments. Cattle can be exposed from contaminated stock ponds, wildlife, rodents or infected domestic animals. Transmission can occur when the bacteria penetrate a mucous membrane (mouth, nose, conjunctiva or genital tract) or enter an open wound. Once an animal is infected, the organism circulates through - out the body and localizes in the kidneys, mammary glands and genital tract. When the urogenital tract becomes infected, the bacteria can be shed in urine, uterine discharge, semen and aborted fetuses/placentas. This shedding allows other herd mates to become exposed and infected.
 Leptospirosis may lead to many reproductive problems such as infertility, early embryonic death, late term abortions (second or third trimester), weak newborn calves and low-grade uterine infections. Cows may not abort the fetus when they first contract the disease, and infected cows frequently exhibit no other signs of illness. Leptospirosis can survive in a moist environment for an extended period of time. Standing water and runoff water could be sources of infection for a cow herd and should be managed to prevent contamination.
There are three types of anthrax which affect skin, lungs and the digestive system. Generally, outbreaks of this disease occur in areas where cattle have previously died of anthrax, due to the presence of spores which remain viable for decades. Cattle infected with anthrax will progress from a normal, healthy state to death in a matter of hours. Symptom include signs of weakness in herd cattle, difficulty in breathing, convulsions, bloody discharges from natural openings of the body, mild fever and muscle aches and stomach pain. Vaccination is very effective in preventing further occurrence of anthrax in cattle (Colorado Serum Company).
Internal Parasites Including Flukes
The amount of parasite pressure in a pasture varies with season and management. Parasite burden peaks during the spring and is lowest during the hot, dry summer months. Due to the wet, cool spring and the flooded regions, a high internal parasite burden may be a concern for cattle producers. When selecting a dewormer, the following items should be considered: type of animal being treated (calf vs. cow, beef vs. dairy), product efficacy, ease of application, broad spectrum of control (immature, mature and inhibited), cost effectiveness, slaughter/milk withdrawal time and personal safety
Liver flukes maybe a concern in area where historically they have not been a concern. The fluke's life cycle requires two hosts – cattle and snails. The snail inhabits open, muddy areas. The adult flukes are found in the bile ducts of cattle. The eggs are laid in the ducts and expelled with the feces. A larval stage hatches from the egg and infects the snail, where it reproduces asexually. Specific stages of the juvenile fluke leave the snail and encyst on aquatic vegetation. Cattle eat the vegetation and become infected. The fluke migrates to the liver, infects the bile ducts and matures into an adult. Not all dewormers are labeled for fluke control, so be sure to check the product label if fluke control is desired.