Clinical Forum: Bovine leptospirosis

Sheila Rusbridge BVSc PhD MRCVS
SAC C VETERINARY SERVICES, MILL OF CRAIBSTONE, BUCKSBURN, ABERDEEN. AB21 9TB

Sheila Rusbridge

George Caldow BVM&S MSc Cert CHP Dip ECBHM MRCVS
SAC C VETERINARY SERVICES, GREYCROOK, ST BOSWELLS, ROXBURGHSHIRE. TD6 0EQ

George Caldow

Panel members: David Barrett BSc(Hons) BVSc(Hons) DBR DCHP Dip ECBHM FHEA MRCVS James Breen BVSc PhD DCHP MRCVS Richard Laven BVetMed PhD MRCVS Keith Cutler BSC BVSc DipECBHM MRCVS Paddy Gordon MA VetMB CertCHP MRCVS
Bovine leptospirosis is a disease of worldwide distribution caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. It is a zoonosis and a cause of infectious bovine abortion. The true prevalence of the disease in the UK has been obscured by widespread vaccination known as Leptospira borgpetersenii type hardjobovis and Leptospira interrogans type hardjoprajitno. The former is mainly associated with renal infection, and is of lower virulence than hardjoprajitno, which is associated with reproductive wastage. Furthermore the more virulent strain appears to be restricted to the UK and North America, by comparison with hardjobovis which is found in Europe, Australia and New Zealand as well as the UK (Ellis et al., 1988). These organisms are collectively referred to as Leptospira Hardjo. No survey work has been carried out in the United Kingdom to establish the relative prevalence of the two species that cause bovine leptospirosis. COURSE OF INFECTION Leptospira are able to penetrate skin abrasions and the intact mucosa of the conjunctiva, digestive, respiratory and reproductive tracts. The resulting bacteraemia persists until antibodies to L. Hardjo appear in the blood, and is associated with the signs of acute clinical disease (‘milk drop syndrome’) or subclinical infection (unapparent in non-pregnant non-lactating cattle, poor milk production in lactating cattle). Circulating antibodies begin to appear from about 10 days after infection, and are followed by renal localisation in the proximal kidney tubules. Leptospires may also remain in the male and female reproductive tracts and central nervous system (Bolin, 2001). The persistence of the organism appears to be limited to sites at which it is protected from the immune system. Renal excretion begins 2-3 weeks after infection and a variable period of intermittent, low-intensity leptospiruria

Fig. 1: A urinating cow. (Image courtesy of Rob Mintern, Kingshay.)

AETIOLOGY The organisms responsible for bovine leptospirosis are spirochaetes and were originally classified as Leptospira interrogans serogroup sejroe serovar hardjo. With the development of DNA analysis, the organism was further divided into two species

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CATTLE G PRACTICE

UK Vet - Vol 15 No 4 July 2010

It can occur at any time of the year but there is a marked seasonal incidence in late summer. While the renal carrier state has been identified in sheep this does not appear to occur commonly and there is little field evidence to implicate sheep in the transmission of this disease. In beef herds with home reared replacements. immunity is strong enough to prevent an adverse effect on subsequent pregnancies. 1997). stillbirth. UK Vet . It has been suggested that the infection has an effect on embryo-maternal signalling or that the presence of leptospires in the uterus stimulates an inflammatory response resulting in early embryonic death. the birth of weak calves and reduced fertility. and most cases occur in the second half of pregnancy. 1988). stillbirth. borgpetersenii serovar Hardjo (genotype hardjobovis) is excreted at higher levels than L. a pH of <6 or >8 is inhibitory and temperatures of <10°C or >34°C are detrimental to survival.Transmission is maximal at grass with a peak in June to October. Leptospires do not tolerate drying. The role of L. The organism has not been identified in wildlife in the UK. Furthermore poor liveweight gains have been reported to be a feature of infected calves.then ensues. The udder is uniformly soft and all four quarters are affected. If infection occurs closer to calving. abortion. Subfertility in beef cattle which have antibodies to L. Following exposure of a naïve herd.. This has been assumed to be the consequence of the lower pH of the urine due to the systemic buffering of the acid ration. If milk drop occurs before the peak of lactation then the lactation Fig. While milk drop due to leptospirosis was frequently recognised in the 1980s it is now rarely diagnosed. increased somatic cell counts. Infected urine is the major vehicle but direct transmission also occurs via the post-abortion discharge. the birth of weak calves or the birth of infected apparently healthy calves. Following infection of breeding females. Acute leptospirosis is characterised by a sudden precipitous drop in milk yield (or cessation in milk production) and occurs soon after (2-7 days) infection enters a previously unexposed herd. in a 6-8 week period 30-50% of the herd may be infected. Excretion of the organism in the milk also occurs in the acute stage of the infection. become apparent. live premature weak calves). 1993). There are many reports of infection associated with reduced conception rates and regular (or irregular) returns to service. 2: An aborted fetus. the resulting placentitis may lead to the birth of small weakly infected calves.. Affected animals may be transiently pyrexic. In contrast in the endemic state only occasional animals are infected in their first or second lactation. 2001). The milk has the consistency of colostrum with a high somatic cell count. Disease is therefore usually introduced into a herd by the purchase of infected cattle. Abortion may be followed by retention of the fetal membranes and can lead to infertility. However in dairy herds where replacement heifers are reared with minimal contact with the adult herd. frequently lasting for 6-12 months in cattle but sometimes persisting for life (Bolin. interrogans serovar Hardjo (genotype hardjoprajitno) (Ellis et al. stillbirths. and reduced fertility are all features of the more chronic form of the disease. via the infected placenta and by sexual contact (Leptospira can be detected in semen of infected animals and can be transmitted by artificial insemination). abortion. Many herds are infected without apparent clinical disease.. TRANSMISSION Leptospirosis was originally thought to be a winter disease. Abortion. but cows affected in late lactation may dry off altogether. Serum progesterone appears to be consistently lower in subsequent oestrous cycles in infected heifers than in uninfected animals (with the suggestion that infection is associated with an increased incidence of silent heats) (Dhaliwal et al. and in beef herds which purchase replacements which have no contact with the cows until they enter the breeding herd. Abortion occurs 4-12 weeks after infection. DISEASE Considerable financial loss in the cattle industry has been attributed to bovine leptospirosis as a consequence of agalactia. transmission of infection may occur in groups of animals (non-pregnant heifers running with the main herd) in which the signs are not significant. L. potential will not be achieved. Hardjo in infertility is open to much debate. and cattle are the recognised reservoir of infection. Hardjo has been associated with a high incidence of cervicitis and salpingitis (Murray et al. Subsequently the signs of chronic infection (poor fertility.Transmission may occur vertically to the fetus in utero (fetuses may be bacteraemic at birth and renal carriers). Cases of milk drop have fallen from 24 in 2001 to 8 in 2008 (figures from the Veterinary Investigation Diagnosis Analysis database). After 5-6 days milk production will be resumed. However carriers often stop or reduce excretion when fed grass silage. Leptospire infection may also be present in oocytes recovered from infected donors when antibiotics have not been used in oocyte collection or in vitro fertilisation.Vol 15 No 4 July 2010 CATTLE G PRACTICE 17 .

In contrast. 1999). In the USA and NZ vaccination has resulted in a dramatic fall in the incidence of human Hardjo infections. Icterohaemorrhagiae with only one case confirmed as L. the Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbent Assays (ELISA) can detect both immunoglobulin G and immunoglobulin M and using this test good seroconversion is seen at three weeks post infection with animals remaining test positive for several months to years. headaches and myalgia. Evidence of infection in a herd can be gained by blood sampling aborted cows.g. Where there is evidence of active infection on clinical grounds or herd screening reveals a high proportion of seropositives and these are not restricted to older animals. infection with genotype hardjoprajitno which is excreted at lower levels in the urine and may not spread so rapidly as hardjobovis. there is a short excretion period and either inefficient or no intraspecies transmission. 32 were confirmed as L. 1985).The MAT is a test that principally measures immunoglobulin M. When a partial (or whole herd) test reveals seropositive animals it is necessary to consider whether this represents active infection.. combined with regular monitoring of sentinel groups of seronegative animals are recommended to maintain disease free status. Furthermore the agglutination is performed using live leptospires and exposes laboratory workers to the unnecessary risk of infection. It markedly reduces the number of organisms an infected animal is excreting but may not achieve a microbiological cure (90% effective) as chronic infections with Leptospira interrogans serovar Hardjo may resist this treatment regime (Ellis et al. resulting in the rapid spread of infection with or without clinical disease. Infection in man may result in a flu-like illness with fever. breeding or pregnancy and result in clinical disease. With several of the commercially available ELISAs there is a wide inconclusive zone and this is accommodated by testing the animal again at four weeks in order to determine whether it has increased (seroconversion) or either remained the same or declined (indicating background non-specific reaction). 1988) and (if using the ELISA) the early stage of infection before high IgG titres are detectable. Confirmation of infection in premature or stillborn calves is difficult because at necropsy there are usually no useful macroscopic features. Hardjo. In the Netherlands a voluntary health scheme has dramatically reduced the incidence of infected herds and of human cases of leptospirosis. and may be implemented by herd owners aware of their responsibilities under the COSHH regulations. The number of laboratory confirmed reports of leptospirosis recorded by the Heath Protection Agency in the United Kingdom has increased from 24 in 1996 to 81 in 2007. Diagnosis of endemic infection depends on serological testing of a statistical proportion of the herd (Caldow et al. Transmission occurs from the adult herd to the uninfected susceptible heifers. DIAGNOSIS The Microscopic Agglutination Test (MAT) used to be the most widely used test. vaccination may be the best method of control.. Of 18 CATTLE G PRACTICE UK Vet . 2001).infection may occur during early lactation.. epidemiological importance is the fact that the current tests used in GB do not differentiate between the two genotypes. The consequence is low sensitivity for anything but the immediate few weeks following acute infection. Sampling of sentinel groups (age cohorts) can be used to determine a strategy for disease control in the herd.Where testing of a herd indicates no evidence of exposure to L. (Ellis et al. imposition of adequate biosecurity measures. and is still used for export purposes and fetal serology. helicoidal. Man is an accidental host: high doses of the organism are necessary for infection. which appears in the early stages of the humoral immune response and declines rapidly. There are two Fig. If titres are confined to older animals and seropositive animals have mixed freely with the rest of the herd this indicates the absence of recent infections and the disease is assumed to be inactive. Serological examination of aborted fetuses is unrewarding. motile organisms. TREATMENT Traditionally antibiotic therapy with streptomycin was used to reduce the human health risk rapidly. and maternal seroconversion usually precedes abortion. Hardjo using milk samples taken from the bulk tank provides a low cost method of assessing the disease status (Pritchard. CONTROL Control of bovine leptospirosis is achieved by a combination of prevention of exposure. In the dairy herd measuring antibodies for L.Vol 15 No 4 July 2010 . quarantine and testing of incoming stock. saxkoebing. 3: Leptospira are flexible. vaccination and selective treatment. It does not speed the recovery from milk drop and is usually too late to reduce the number of abortions. ZOONOSIS IMPLICATIONS Leptospirosis is an occupational zoonosis of those who work with cattle. Of the indigenously acquired cases in 2007. Reasons for a few seropositives include exposure to other nonpathogenic leptospires e. Hardjo.

Hardjo but there is no evidence of a clinical problem. I feel there is a lack of awareness of the importance of leptospirosis in some sections of the industry. However it may be that by reducing the bacterial replication the size of the challenge to the fetus is reduced and in this way clinical protection is achieved. There is no doubt that the dealing and movement of cattle between herds. G. Vaccination of infected animals or challenge of vaccinated animals may lead to titres which persist for years. and prevention of leptospirosis in cattle. R. ELLIS. (2007) Bovine abortion: aetiology and investigations. Leptavoid H ‚ is prepared from hardjoprajitno and claims cross protection against hardjobovis.. Vaccinated cattle that subsequently become infected may not seroconvert (but may become leptospiruric). Where screening reveals evidence of exposure to L. CASSELLS. Research in Veterinary Science 44: 375-379. S. ELLIS. What is the single biggest barrier to achieving control of bovine leptospirosis in the UK? David Barrett replies: It is hard to identify one particular barrier to control at a national level. MONTGOMERY.. MURRAY. J. RUSBRIDGE. Spirovac‚ is prepared from hardjobovis. and can reduce the amount of leptospires passed in urine from infections established prior to vaccination. HUMPHRY. there is commonly a lack of clinical disease in endemically infected herds. W. diagnosis. A. The effect of vaccination is to limit replication of the organism. Alternatively when challenged vaccinated seronegative animals may seroconvert but such an event is not indicative of clinical disease. J. A. D. Cattle Practice 7: 59-61.W. a lack of knowledge of the health status both of the animals being moved and of the herd into UK Vet ... REFERENCES BOLIN. CALDOW. (2001) Herd health security: the role of laboratory tests. Antibodies induced by vaccination are detected in the IgG ELISA and are indistinguishable from antibodies induced in response to natural infection. B. GUNN.. CABELL.g. C. WINTER. Consequently. Vaccination prevents or markedly reduces clinical disease in previously unexposed animals. A...vaccines against L. and in preventing the infection of people working with cattle.. James Breen replies: I believe the main barrier to be the general uncertainty about the role that infection with leptospirosis plays in herd health.. DHALIWAL. S. herds that vaccinate cannot be sure of their infection status. (2001) Clinical signs. despite all the events of the last decade. MARSHALL. DOBSON. Cattle Practice 9: 105-110.Veterinary Record 140: 19-20. Keith Cutler replies: The single biggest barrier to achieving control of bovine leptospirosis in the UK is dependent on the reliance of the cattle industry in this country on trading and moving stock with. (1997) Effect of Leptospira interrogans serovar hardjo infection on progesterone concentrations in heifers. (1988) Restriction endonuclease analysis of Leptospira interrogans serovar hardjo isolates from cattle. A.. H. A. ELLIS. W> A. A. e. Hardjo infection is a useful tool in safeguarding the health and breeding performance of cattle. R. (1999) Bulk milk antibody testing for Leptospira hardjo infection.. C.. MONTGOMERY. HI-Health and Herdcare. For example. perhaps brought about by the somewhat mistaken belief that we have 100% effective vaccines.. J.THIERMANN. G. PRITCHARD. E. Adequate records of reproductive performance are essential to enable retrospective analysis if an infertility problem is encountered in subsequent years. In Practice 29: 455-463. W. Leptospirosis has been satisfactorily controlled in the Netherlands by restricting the trade of animals from bulk tank positive herds.. D. licensed under the auspices of Cattle Health Certification Standards (CHeCS). Accreditation of freedom from L. CRAWSHAW. and a lack of perceived response in many herds where poor reproductive performance leads to vaccination (likely because fertility is such a multifactorial problem). (1993) Effects of leptospirosis on fertility of dairy cattle. Research in Veterinary Science 39: 292-295. sampling of sentinel groups of non-vaccinated replacements is recommended. DHALIWAL. Furthermore within the cattle industry. A. P. there is still a reluctance to implement effective biosecurity measures. A. G. ORTEGA-PACHECO. (1985) Dihydrostreptomycin treatment of bovine carriers of Leptospira interrogans serovar hardjo. R. In the UK there are three voluntary accreditation schemes .. Cattle Practice 1: 99-105. Questions for the panel: 1. J... Hardjo currently available in the UK. DOWNHAM. dispersal sales.. D. herds may wish to consider regular monitoring of groups of seronegative animals for evidence of seroconversion before embarking on a vaccination programme.the Premium Cattle Health Scheme (PCHS). does play a role in transmission of disease and therefore this practice is also a barrier to control. G. Furthermore vaccinated pregnant animals challenged by a natural route may develop Leptospira infection of the fetus. in many cases. M. but other risk factors are poorly understood. Cattle Practice 9: 267-273. HANDSAKER. For herds considering phasing out vaccination. R. G. S. MURRAY. Y. ELLIS. B.Vol 15 No 4 July 2010 CATTLE G PRACTICE 19 .

http://www. Paddy Gordon replies: I would argue that we have good control of disease in this practice. and the culture of leptospires from fetal tissues or the demonstration of fetal seroconversion is usually unrewarding. For diseases like leptospirosis where infection is often hidden. The diagnosis is therefore usually made at a herd level based on clinical history (mid to late term abortions usually occurring during the grazing period) and the demonstration of seroconversion amongst animals within the herd. How is the introduction of L. but as the authors of this paper point out it is not to be relied upon. It should be noted however. Leptospirosis is considered to be an important cause of abortion in cattle. although this is not provided by the VLA. In dairy herds the first clinical signs seen might be milk drop. While this may not be diagnostically accurate. 2. but not infection status. However. rendering biosecurity ineffective. it does provide evidence that L. I suspect in most cases. and I cannot see the Government making it compulsory. Hardjo has been on the farm and thus provides a basis to start discussing vaccination. Paddy Gordon replies: Bulk milk levels combined with investigation of abortions are used to establish cause. raises the possibility that we have been looking at the disease in the wrong way. An industry led initiative is required if we are to control leptospirosis . Richard Laven replies: As always the lack of ownership of disease in UK farms is the major barrier. Hardjo is not easy to diagnose and even harder to confirm. Richard Laven replies: I wish I had a good answer to that the way to control the disease rests with vaccination and this stems from the belief that factors such as water courses and sheep are crucial risk factors. which is currently the control method of choice? Authors’ reply: Demonstration of leptospires using PCR has been in place for several years without increasing the numbers of diagnoses of L. Maternal seroconversion usually precedes abortion. How is fetopathy due to L. as in New Zealand. and farmers reluctant to spend the money on large scale blood testing unless there has been an abortion storm.or late-gestation abortions and weakly or still born calves. Hardjo diagnosed? David Barrett replies: Occasionally fetal serology this one.The example of effective control in the Netherlands where many dairy farms have a network of ditches separating fields and while sheep are not so abundant as in the UK they are nevertheless present on many dairy farms.the authors will know more about this than I do! Keith Cutler replies: Fetopathy due to L. Is the money better spent on vaccination. 20 CATTLE G PRACTICE UK Vet . As the article states I have almost always found fetal necropsy unrewarding. I have assumed leptospirosis on the basis of a high bulk milk Lepto titre in the absence of other pathogens. Emma Cabell reports the use of a PCR test with improved sensitivity and specificity .common things are common. followed in both beef and dairy herds by mid. In 2009 VLA examined material from 272 cattle abortions using this PCR and only one was positive.pdf . UK farmers tend to be individualists and schemes such as the Dutch one are unlikely to be accepted because it puts restrictions on what farmers can do. 3. Farmers are interested in controlling disease .which they are being introduced and an omission of basic biosecurity precautions. What is needed in the UK is rigorous epidemiological studies to examine this further. that non-lactating or non-pregnant animals will almost certainly exhibit no recognisable clinical signs. ‘diagnosis’ is made on the basis of positive antibody titres in an individual animal that has aborted with no other obvious diagnosis. Adoption of vaccination resulted in a dramatic drop in the level of abortions . together with a history that indicates the dam was likely to have been previously naïve to this infection often gives good circumstantial evidence.Vol 15 No 4 July 2010 . In her article on bovine abortion. Accepting that vaccination is the key saddles the industry with that cost for ever. James Breen replies: As already stated by the authors in their article.uk/vla/reports/docs/ rep_zoo0409.defra. While not definitive for a specific abortion the detection of active infection in the herd.gov.this is a crowded area with BVD and Johne’s initiatives currently looking for support. this is difficult but historically has and environmental conditions are conducive to disease spread) to result in the classical signs of acute leptospirosis. Hardjo into a naïve dairy or beef herd likely to be manifest? David Barrett replies:This is likely (if management may be useful. the absence of a clear incentive to tackle infection rates makes things worse. so paired maternal serology is rarely of use. the COSHH angle may be an important way in to disease control Authors’ reply: It appears to be accepted in the UK been the detection of leptospires in the fetal kidney using immunofluoresence.limiting the financial impact of disease and vaccination achieves this. Hardjo abortions.

David Barrett replies: To comply with COSHH regulations the best advice in all herds known to be actively infected would be to advise vaccination. 4. access to running water and co-grazing cattle with sheep are also recognised risk factors for the introduction of UK Vet . biological material such as semen and embryos (although processing with antibiotics should prevent this) and transmission via water courses. Basic epidemiological facts about the transmission of the disease are well known (e. In the past we also advised treatment with streptomycin. The lack of reported disease ‘outbreaks’ likely reflects the endemic nature of infection and/or widespread use of a vaccine. Specific advice to a client should be risk based following a herd investigation involving bulk milk antibody +/. Hardjo. How should the veterinary surgeon advise on the zoonotic risk of leptospirosis to: a) their dairy clients and b) their beef cow herds. the use of natural service is a risk factor for spreading the disease.Vol 15 No 4 July 2010 CATTLE G PRACTICE 21 . Cattle contact is still by far the major concern. naïve herd. This is not a scenario we see very often. a) In the dairy herd especially those milking in herring-bone parlours it is almost impossible to protect staff from urine. In a dairy herd.a not uncommon occurrence.sentinel group serology in the dairy herd and a representative group or sentinel group serological investigation in the beef herd. In NZ. Hardjo! most likely route by which L. However. 5. Richard’s comments on the role of wild ruminants in the spread of disease in New Zealand is interesting and in the UK there are many farms where contact with wild and feral deer occurs.) Richard Laven replies: I have always been concerned about natural water courses. further epidemiological work is required. thus I would advise vaccination and education of the farm staff to enhance recognition of human disease should it occur.) Paddy Gordon replies: Milk drop in a dairy herd followed by abortions. Antibiotics are used in processed semen as a preservative. Hardjo be introduced to a herd? David Barrett replies: Infected cattle are by far the answer to question 1. the veterinary literature is sparse and relatively historic on both the subjects of risk factors (for example the work done by Bennett looking at decision support models is 17 years old) and on what we know about infection and disease versus likely cost benefit or control. milk drop may also be noticeable. in a small Somerset dairy herd. b) In both beef and dairy herds precautions should be taken to protect staff from potentially infectious abortion material. Once introduced. The second issue is contaminated water . but this is classically described in the text books as a manifestation of clinical disease in an uninfected. deer are a definitive host for L. and intermittent flooding of pastures (I have monitored a naïve herd that seroconverted in these circumstances. (This may be noticeable as poor calf performance in a beef suckler herd. Keith Cutler replies: Although the major risk factor remains the import of infected animals. particularly downstream from other farms. We have no knowledge on whether this is a risk in the UK. but again this is not likely to be significant on most farms. and suggest that these should always alert the veterinarian to the possibility of leptospirosis in an unvaccinated or known uninfected herd. Hardjo leptospirosis into a herd. Hopefully.James Breen replies: I have seen acute milk drop only once. Apart from the introduction of infected cattle how can L. Authors’ reply: No comment to add.access to watercourses with infected animals upstream. The authors also mention an increased incidence of abortion and a clustering of fetal losses in beef or dairy herds. not just to protect them from L. Richard Laven replies: I think in most cases the answer is it is not likely to be seen by the farmer at all. other routes are possible including by other ruminants such as sheep. The initial spread of the disease in the Netherlands was attributed to contaminated semen from North America. Keith Cutler replies: The introduction of L.g. With many herds endemically infected. the use in practice of the traditional approach of assessing risk of leptospirosis by doubling the estimated risk of disease for each risk factor present is difficult to comment on. Authors’ reply: We also believe that as with the into a naïve beef suckler herd is likely to result in a reduced fertility performance and mid to late term abortions. Hardjo may enter a herd. although the use of this or other effective antibiotics is still possible it is I believe less often implemented at a herd level nowadays. This occurs through break-outs and break-ins . Paddy Gordon replies: With every farm within half a mile of another livestock farm there is plenty of potential for introduction of disease. Effective biosecurity and disease control within the bull studs should ensure that commercially produced semen is not a vector for L. Hardjo infection. James Breen replies: I think this is difficult to answer. so I suspect they could potentially be in the UK too. environmental considerations and preventing stock access to such water have reduced this risk. is not straightforward and I don’t think we know enough about this disease. sheep are able to carry the infection and watercourses can become contaminated) but the practical implications of these facts are much less clear.

Differences in infection prevalence. but perhaps as a profession we give too little weight to other causes. though we do have occasional reports of deaths due to serovar Copenhageni. Hardjo infection occurring each year is useful and is available on the HPA website (www. which is considered to be more virulent and associated with reproductive wastage is more prevalent than in mainland Europe where Leptospira borgpetersenii type hardjobovis predominates. This could be a major reason that leptospirosis is still seen as an important cause of poor reproductive performance in the UK. the rate of zoonotic disease is not known .hpa. and to follow HSE guidelines. is spread from fetal fluids when calving infected cows. tie-stalls where cows have less access to urine and high (>34°C) or low (<10°C) temperatures depending on time and place. implies that these are strain differences. but fortunately we don’t have hardjoprajitno. One approach to reduce risk is to vaccinate cattle at an early age. particularly their urine. wetter climate . A further risk. It is worth mentioning that even in known affected herds. Authors’ reply The big problem for most risk assessments is that it is seldom possible to quantify the risk. have a positive bulk milk ELISA and yet have not had the disease themselves. Richard Laven replies: I thought this was George’s job! If I had to make a partially educated guess I would say that it is down to the UK’s milder. lameness and poor housing. such as negative energy balance. This provides a perfect template for looking at the zoonotic risk of leptospirosis as it is selling services not just vaccines. but not in mainland European countries. Whilst it is impossible to generalise across the whole of mainland Europe examples of relevant factors might include: permanent housing systems where grass or maize silage are the predominant feed lowering urine pH. 22 CATTLE G PRACTICE UK Vet . and the major one to beef suckler farmers. I understand that vaccination prior to infection will reduce the number of animals shedding Leptospira via the urine. Paddy Gordon replies: Farmers are broadly aware of the zoonotic risk. veterinary leptospirosis to dairy farmers is via aerosol spread in the parlour when cows urinate during milking. Leptosure was designed for dairy farms where contact with cattle. Data on the number of human cases of L.org. I think veterinary surgeons must always point out the potential for zoonotic disease in humans exposed to concentrated infection and there are obvious risks associated with handling aborted fetal material and coming into inadvertent contact with infected cattle urine.Leptospires spread extremely well in NZ where it is even milder and wetter. this is very difficult and probably one of the main reasons farmers and herdspersons elect to vaccinate in the first place as we cannot quantify what the risks are.uk). whereas in the UK we also have Leptospira interrogans type hardjoprajitno which is associated with reproductive failure. In the UK Leptospira interrogans type hardjoprajitno. but even though the risk is lower the same process of identifying the key risks on that farm would still be the way to go. is much greater than on beef farms. Keith Cutler replies: Bovine leptospirosis is a more important cause of reproductive failure in the UK than in mainland Europe because of the predominant strains of the infectious organism present. It involves a farm visit to identify the key risks on that farm and provides a farm-specific risk management programme. Paddy Gordon replies: The opening paragraph scheme organised by the NZVA which has the tagline ‘more than just vaccination’. Richard Laven replies: In NZ we have the Leptosure surgeons are taught about the importance of infectious diseases and the potential role they have in poor fertility performance in cattle herds rather better than they are taught about multifactorial approaches and the important of management and husbandry. The relative prevalence of the two species in the UK needs to be ascertained.Vol 15 No 4 July 2010 . David Barrett replies: I believe there may be a number of reasons for this. Keith Cutler replies: The major zoonotic risk of mainly results in renal infection and not reproductive disease. Reducing the risk of human infection relies on personal hygiene and the use of appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment along with herd vaccination and possibly strategic antibiotic treatment. Explain why bovine leptospirosis is seen as an important cause of reproductive failure in the UK. coupled with the excellent marketing of these products to the veterinarian mean that leptospirosis is always (rightly!) considered. different management and environmental conditions in many countries may also reduce disease transmission when compared with the summer temperate grazing that still predominates in the UK. zero grazing.I’m sure we all know dairy farmers that don’t vaccinate for leptospirosis. and we remind them about the risk. However. The first and most obvious is the fact that in most of Europe the less virulent Leptospira borgpetersenii type hardjobovis lack of knowledge in this area. climate and farming systems could all have an effect on disease challenge but I have limited knowledge of this area. There is no doubt that the availability of highly effective vaccines in the UK. Authors’ reply: We believe that there is an absolute 6. James Breen replies: Traditionally.James Breen replies: Again.

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