Veterinary research highlights refocus for cattle export

March 6, 2014 by Geoff Vivian
Ms Moore says as a result of this research, she says she is able to specify potential vaccinations and antibiotics to be used for Australian cattle. Credit: Richard Peat

Respiratory diseases are the greatest mortality risk for export cattle on long sea voyages according to PhD research by a local veterinary scientist.

"One of the most interesting findings was that , which has been identified as the most important cause of death in the previous study that was carried out in late 2000, wasn't so much of an issue in the anymore," Murdoch University's Jo Moore says.

She has also been working to develop regimes of prophylactic vaccination and antibiotics to prevent and reduce mortality en route.

Ms Moore researched the cause of death for Australian cattle on 20 voyages.

She obtained tissue samples from all beasts that died at sea.

"All the voyages that go to the Middle East and Turkey [have a] biosecurity accredited vet on board," she says.

"They were asked to necropsy anything that dies and collect a set of samples."

She analysed these for any abnormal structural changes in the tissue, and to investigate the bacteria and viruses involved in the disease.

PCR () assays also helped identify any additional virus DNA. 

"In the tissue sample ... if you get one that looks apparently normal you can still check and see whether it's got any viruses in there or something that might be present, and they haven't caused diseases yet but they might go on to cause disease," she says.

While a 2000 study identifying heat stress as the major cause of death resulted in new protocols that have largely eliminated it, she says attempts to tackle respiratory diseases are less systematic.

"There is no standard vaccination or antibiotic protocol for live export cattle," she says.

"There are kind of two sets of treatments that the animals get. 

"One is demanded by the importing country.

"[The exporters] were also treating them with antibiotics that are used on cattle with respiratory disease in the USA in feedlots … based on whatever evidence they had."

However as a result of this research, she says she is able to specify potential vaccinations and antibiotics to be used for Australian cattle.

"We've got data for the first time on the bacteria and viruses involved in respiratory disease on long voyages.

"The idea is that we treat these cattle before they get on the boat to reduce the risk that they're going to die during the voyage or die once they get off the other end."

Explore further: Survey shows increase in resistance to drug therapies among bovine respiratory disease cases

More information: "Mortality of live export cattle on long-haul voyages: pathologic changes and pathogens." Moore SJ, O'Dea MA, Perkins N, Barnes A, O'Hara AJ. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2014 Feb 11. [Epub ahead of print]

Related Stories

Prevalence of colds and pneumonia in cows can be controlled

November 5, 2013

Respiratory diseases in cattle are a great threat to animal welfare and lead to financial losses in the cattle industry. The bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) is one of the main causes of respiratory disease in cattle. ...

Disease severity factors ID'd for human rhinovirus

January 13, 2014

(HealthDay)—Human rhinovirus (HRV) infection is a common pathogen seen in young children with respiratory infection symptoms, with severe disease caused mainly by presence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in coinfections, ...

Recommended for you

How Frankenstein saved humankind from probable extinction

October 28, 2016

Frankenstein as we know him, the grotesque monster that was created through a weird science experiment, is actually a nameless Creature created by scientist Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel, "Frankenstein." ...

Closer look reveals tubule structure of endoplasmic reticulum

October 28, 2016

(—A team of researchers from the U.S. and the U.K. has used high-resolution imaging techniques to get a closer look at the endoplasmic reticulum (ET), a cellular organelle, and in so doing, has found that its structure ...

Computer model is 'crystal ball' for E. coli bacteria

October 28, 2016

It's difficult to make predictions, especially about the future, and even more so when they involve the reactions of living cells—huge numbers of genes, proteins and enzymes, embedded in complex pathways and feedback loops. ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.