– Johne's Disease | pronounced “yo-knees”
Johne’s Disease is caused by a bacterium that infects the intestines of cattle and causes thickening of that section of intestine. Because of this, cattle develop chronic, intermittent diarrhea and weight loss. Cattle usually get infected at a young age and do not develop clinical signs until they are 2-3 years old or older. It is important to identify cattle that have Johne’s Disease and remove them from the herd to decrease contamination of the environment and exposure to other cattle. There are a few laboratory tests available to help diagnose this disease.
-What is Johne’s Disease?
Johne’s disease is a medical condition in which the lining of the intestine is infected by a bacterium causing inflammation which leads to protein loss through diarrhea and eventual weight loss and death by emaciation and dehydration.
-What causes Johne’s Disease in cattle?
Johne’s disease is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis.
-What are early warning signs of Johne’s Disease?
Early signs of Johne’s disease are intermittent diarrhea and weight loss. It then progresses to severe diarrhea which is unresponsive to treatment.
-Symptoms of Johne’s Disease in cows:
1. Intermittent to severe diarrhea
2. Weight loss
3. Bottle jaw
-Is Johne’s Disease contagious?
Although it can be spread from cow to cow, Johne’s disease generally is not spread simply by close contact. The bacterium is shed in the feces of an infected cow and it infects other cattle that ingest it. It is most often spread from cow to calf, and is not commonly spread from cow to cow.
-Risk factors of Johne’s Disease:
1. Calves nursing infected cows
2. Environmental contamination
3. Addition of infected animals to add to the herd
-How serious is Johne’s Disease?
Johne’s disease can be very serious. Since there is no legal curative treatment in the U.S. infected cattle either die or get culled from the herd. On a herd wide basis, Johne’s disease can cause decreased production and economic loss.
Dr. Fuselier and Dr. Whittington are available for consultation regarding management of this disease on your farm.