Diseases in Beef and Dairy Cattle

Viral & Bacterial Diseases in Beef & Dairy Cattle – Natural Products

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Cattle constitute one of the major livestock species and an important economical factor in many countries. The world cattle population is estimated at 1.5 billion animals, more than 1 billion of them in tropical and subtropical countries. There, they are heavily exposed to numerous internal and external parasites, which drastically affect their well being as well as their productivity. Infectious diseases also play an important economical role in cattle. This paper discusses important diseases and suggestive prevention strategy based on ‘natural’ feed additives.

Infectious diseases :
Cattle are susceptible to different respiratory and enteric diseases primarily based on bacterial or viral infections.

Respiratory diseases:
Major bacterial pathogens for respiratory diseases in cattle are Pasteurella and Mycoplasma, Pneumonic pasteurellosis, commonly associated with infection by Pasteurella multocida or Pasteurella haemolytica, also often called “shipping fever“.

causes contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, which is enzootic throughout Europe, Asia and Africa.

Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis
(IBR) is a common disease in cattle. All age groups are affected but mostly occurring in young feedlot cattle.

Enteric disease
is a major cause of economic loss in cattle herds and may assume even greater importance in the future as livestock production becomes more intensified. Enteric diseases in cattle occur in newborn calves as well as in adults. Escherichia coli is considered as the most important pathogen in the neonate. It is responsible for neonatal diarrhoea most commonly in calves 2-10 days of age. Clostridium perfringens causes diarrhoea and enteritis in calves. Salmonellosis in cattle is serious and continuing problem based on the tendency of the salmonella species (Dublin, Enteriditis, Typhimirium) to persist in cattle and to create a significant reservoir of carrier animals. Rotavirus is a common agent involved in outbreaks of neonatal enteritis in calves.

Bovine Virus Diarrhoea
(BVD, Mucosal disease) is an infectious disease of cattle manifested by acute erosive stomatitis, gastroenteritis and diarrhoea, noticed in all ages of Cattle.

- primarily bacterial infection, but also mycoplasmal, mycotic (fungal), or algal infection. Mastitis is usually caused by bacterial infection of the mammary gland. Subclinical Mastitis is the most common form of mastitis. It is many times more common than clinical mastitis. There is no gross inflammation of the udder and no gross changes in the milk. There is decreased production and decreased milk quality.

Causative organisms
- Primary cause of mastitis in cattle are well-recognized groups of microorganisms, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus aureus, Mycoplasma, Pasteurella. Environmental Mastitis is caused by coliforms e.g. Escherichia coli, Micrococcus sp, Enterobacter sp., Nocardia, Citrobacter, Proteus, Pseudomonas, Serratia sp.,and Klebsiella sp. Yeast and fungus have also been found frequently infecting the udder. Also, Staphylococcus aureus mastitis in heifers often occurs before calving.

Costs due to Mastitis include:

1) decreased milk production is associated with sub-clinical or clinical mastitis. Decreased milk production accounts for about 70% of the total cost of mastitis.
2) Milk dumped after antibiotic usage is the major cost associated with mastitis. Discarded milk and decreased production accounts for about 85% of the cost of mastitis.
3) Veterinary costs
4) Labor costs
5) Culling and death costs
6) Lost milk quality premiums due to increased SCC (somatic cell count), decreased milk fat which may occur as a result of IMI, and decreased protein which may occur as a result of IMI.

It is sometimes difficult to initiate mastitis control programs, because 70% of the losses are not visible to the producer (unrealized production potential).

Mycobacterium Paratuberculosis
(John’s disease) in cattle is caused by bacteria Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, that thrives in lymph nodes of the animal. Unstoppable Diarrhoea spreads the infection to healthy animals. This is a deadly problem, as it goes unnoticed for long time, and when it surfaces in the form of diarhhoea, it is often too late. In most countries, it is a notifiable disease and the animal is sent for slaughter. Respowell & Growell, when given together for 3 months, are able to eliminate this problem completely. See Reference below for more details.

Clostridial diseases in Cattle
are caused by bacteria of the genus Clostridium. Clostridia are widespread in the environment and are normally found in soil and faeces. They form highly resistant spores that can survive in the environment for very long periods. They are also present in the gastrointestinal tract and as spores in tissues of healthy animals.

Disease occurs when these bacteria enter the body (via cuts, abrasions or ingestion) and conditions in the body allow multiplication of the bacteria and/or toxin production.

usually results from contamination of deep puncture wounds. Castration and dehorning wounds are another risk, as are wounds from calving trauma. Clostridium tetani organisms remain at the site of entry, multiply, and produce a toxin that affects the nervous system, causing stimulation and contraction of the skeletal muscles. Respiratory failure ends in death.

Clostridium septicum, along with C. chauvoei, C. perfringens,C. sordellii and C. novyi, produce malignant oedema. Malignant oedema results from wound contamination by soil, allowing entry of the clostridia. Deep puncture wounds, castration wounds and calving injuries are high risk. Infection can also occur via the umbilicus (navel) in newborn calves and following injections if proper aseptic technique is not used. Toxins are produced at the entry site. This causes extensive swelling, with accumulation of bloody or clear fluid, and tissue death followed by gangrene. Toxins are absorbed into the bloodstream, causing fever, weakness, trembling, and then death.

tends to be a disease of young cattle from 6 months to 2 years old. It occurs more often in rapidly growing animals on a high plane of nutrition. Spores of Clostridium chauvoei lie dormant in the muscles of healthy animals.


The organism that causes enterotoxaemia is a normal inhabitant of the intestine but is usually present in low numbers. These organisms produce little toxin and, under normal conditions, are removed by normal gut movements or are inactivated by circulating antibodies. Sudden changes in diet, grazing lush, rapidly growing pastures or young cereal crops; or heavy grain feeding (as in feedlots) enables the bacteria to multiply rapidly. Toxaemia occurs when the movement of food in the intestine slows or the organisms multiply and produce toxin faster than it can be removed or neutralized.

Enterotoxaemia is caused by proliferation of Clostridium perfringens type D, with toxin production, in the intestine. A number of toxins are produced, but the most important toxin damages blood vessels and the nervous system. The disease tends to occur in young, rapidly growing animals in good condition and on a high plane of nutrition. Signs of disease include diarrhoea, bellowing, mania or dullness, blindness, convulsions and death. Animals may just be found dead.

is thought to occur when there is damage to the liver - such as occurs with migrating liver fluke - that allows Clostridium novyi to multiply and produce toxin. The toxin causes severe liver damage and death.

Clostridium botulinum is present in decomposing animal and plant material. Toxins are produced by Clostridium botulinum in the decaying material. Animals get botulism by ingesting the toxin. The most common source of toxin for cattle is feed contaminated by carcasses such as those of mice or birds, or chewing on bones. Botulinum toxin causes a flaccid (floppy) paralysis. The animal cannot chew or swallow and will drool saliva. Paralysis of the respiratory muscles results in death.

is a contagious disease, which is caused by bacteria called Leptospira. There are over 200 different strains of Leptospira found worldwide, with infections being most prominent in areas that have a hot and humid climate. Leptospirosis is considered an occupational hazard for many people who work outdoors or with cattle, for example farmers, veterinarians, abattoir workers, sewer workers etc. There are two strains of Leptospira that are frequently identified in dairy and beef cattle – 1) Leptospira hardjobovis ; 2) Leptospira pomona.

Economic loss:
Leptospirosis can cause severe economic loss:

  • due to outbreaks of mastitis and a significant decrease in milk production.
  • In both dairy and beef herds, decreased calving percentage due to abortions and high death rate in calves may constitute a considerable loss.
  • There is a further cost if a farmer, a family member or a farm worker is infected with the disease. The considerable time spent off work and the medical expenses incurred during recovery from leptospirosis add to the economic losses in animal production.

(also known as Bovine Venereal Campylobacteriosis, or BVC), is one of the most important infectious venereal diseases of cattle. The disease is a major cause of infertility and abortion. The condition is widespread worldwide with more than 40% of beef herds having infertility due to vibriosis. As reproductive efficiency is one of the most important economic factors in beef enterprises, calf losses due to vibriosis can mean the difference between success and failure.

Vibriosis is caused by the bacterium Campylobacter fetus and is spread by infected bulls when they mate susceptible cows and heifers. Immunity against vibriosis in bulls is not developed easily and they can be infected for a long time without showing any signs of illness.

Economic Loss due to Vibrosis
can be in the form of significant reproductive wastage in infected beef and dairy herds and can be large economic loss for producers, particularly in the first year of infection. Gross margins can be reduced by as much as 65% in the first year of infection in beef herds.

or Bang's disease, is an infection of the bovine reproductive system. Caused by the bacterium Brucella abortus, which has an affinity for certain body tissues such as the udder, uterus, lymph nodes, testicles, and accessory sex glands. Because of its affinity for the uterus, abortion is the usual sign of the disease. However, other symptoms e.g. reduced milk production and reduced weight gain, are often seen. In bulls, the most obvious clinical sign of this disease is epididymitis.

Brucellosis is primarily transmitted to susceptible animals by direct contact with infected animals. Essentially, the only time an infected cow transmits the organism is at or around calving or abortion. Aborted fetuses, placental membranes, placental fluids, and the vaginal discharges that persist for several weeks after an infected cow has calved or aborted all abound with virulent Brucella organisms. The organism may be transmitted to other animals that contact the environment that has been contaminated with discharges from infected animals. Milk and colostrum from infected cows is a readily available source of infection for calves and the human population.

The old saying that "brucellosis is usually bought and paid for" is true more often than not. Just because an animal or group of animals has been tested and declared free of infection does not ensure that some are not in the incubation stage of the disease. A small percentage of heifer calves born to brucellosis-infected cows will harbor the organism until they are mature. Serological tests may be negative during the heifer's developmental period. However, once the heifer becomes pregnant, she may abort or she may become seropositive and a source of infection at calving time. Therefore, unknowing cattle producers may be buying the disease via serologically negative heifers carrying a latent infection.

Calf scours
(diarrhoea) is the most common symptom of illness in young calves and is usually
a problem in the first month of life. The scour can be white, yellow, grey or blood-stained, and is
often foul-smelling. Scours can be caused by many organisms, and more than one causative agent can be present in the animal. Viruses such as rotavirus are the most common cause of scours in young calves, but protozoa such as cryptosporidia and coccidia, and bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli, can also cause problems. Internal parasites (worms) can cause scours in older calves. Whatever the cause of the scour, the lining of the bowel is damaged, resulting in the loss of large amounts of body fluid into the gut. As a result, the calf quickly dehydrates, electrolytes become unbalanced, energy reserves are depleted, and the calf may develop shock and die.

is an acute infectious bacterial disease affecting livestock because it can kill stock across all ages and classes. The causative bacteria Bacillus anthracis  forms highly resistant spores when they are exposed to the air. These spores can survive in soil for many years and contaminate the area around an anthrax carcass. The spores germinate when eaten or inhaled by grazing stock. They then multiply quickly inside an animal, invading the bloodstream in large numbers, causing fever and rapid death.

The incidence of anthrax is declining. However, because of the nature of the disease, a large outbreak is always possible. Anthrax occurrence is best described as unpredictable, although there do appear to be some trends. The disease is sometimes associated with close grazing of paddocks, especially stubble paddocks, but can also occur in lush pastures. It seems to occur more frequently during summer and autumn, but is also seen following particularly wet conditions. This unpredictability means that anthrax should always be considered when sudden deaths occur in grazing stock.

is a risk when animals are grazing young, lush pasture, particularly if the pasture has a high legume content. Ruminant animals produce large volumes of gas during the normal process of digestion. This gas either is belched up or passes through the gastrointestinal tract. If something interferes with gas escape from the rumen, bloat occurs. In advanced cases the animal will go down. Death is rapid at this stage, and is due to the swollen rumen compressing the lungs, interfering with breathing and tissue oxygenation, and obstructing blood flow.

Enterotoxaemia and bloat:
While bloat and enterotoxaemia are quite different, they are often found together, due to their association with grazing on similar pastures.

Bovine respiratory disease:
Symptoms of respiratory disease may vary from a mild, barely detectable illness to animals simply found dead. Depending on severity, there may be:

  • animals off their feed
  • nasal discharge
  • fever
  • depression
  • coughing
  • laboured breathing

Stress is a significant predisposing factor. The vast majority of disease in feedlots occurs in the first 4 weeks on feed. Several viruses, most important being infectious bovine rhinotracheitis virus (IBR) and pestivirus, as well as bacteria such as pasteurella and haemophilus, can contribute to or cause respiratory disease in cattle. Viruses will not respond to antibiotics, but viral infections are frequently followed by secondary bacterial infections, so it is usual to use broad-spectrum antibiotics, with or without desired results.

Present options for cattle feed manufacturers

  • No treatment for virus(es)
  • Broad spectrum antibiotic
  • Antibiotics for bacterial, mycoplasmal, clostridial & respiratory problems

Treatment consists of supportive therapy and antimicrobials for secondary infections such as pneumonia (Clostridia, Haemophilus, Pasteurella, Streptococcus, Salmonella, Listeria, Respiratory coronavirus), diarrhea (Salmonella, E. coli), and Chlamydia.

Problems with present options / Antibiotic sensitivity

Treatment with antibiotics is quite difficult because of the inconstant sensitivity of the strains. It is seen that the above mentioned secondary infections are able to acquire resistance easily against known antibiotics. Moreover, ALL secondary infections need to be tackled TOGETHER to cure the infection(s). Most antibiotics are ineffective against the multiple pathogenic bacteria. There is a big and genuine difficulty for the nutritionist to select a broad spectrum antibiotic(s) to control above problems, as perhaps there is nothing available. As against these antibiotic(s), Respowell, a (natural feed additive based on botanically derived aromatic essences) is sensitive to ALL causative agents described above like Mycoplasma, Pasteurella, Haemophilus, Streptococcus, Actinobacillus, Staphylococcus, Listeria & Bordetella and also enteric disorders like Clostridia & Salmonella.

Immunity parameters - Battle between Host and Pathogen

Nature has provided the animal with good mechanisms against bacterial & respiratory infections. Larger particles from air are deposited in the nasal cavity and upper respiratory tract while small are distributed to the lower respiratory tract. These particles become attached to the sticky mucus lining of the respiratory tract and then moved back by reverse movements of brush border (cilia) of respiratory tract. Macrophages engulf the pathogens and kill them. Furthermore, the respiratory tract is coated with many substances like essential fatty acids that have a bactericidal effect. However, viruses, some bacteria and fungal spores can directly enter deeper into the lower respiratory tract.

Studies have shown that bacteria adhere easily to virus infected or damaged epithelial cells of the respiratory tract. Animal’s immune system responds through acute inflammation but if this is inadequate, it allows pathogens to enter the blood and circulate throughout the body.

Respiratory immunity and Immunosuppression

Other than the non-specific defence mechanism described earlier, the respiratory tract is lined with local lymphoid tissue throughout its length. This protects the respiratory system by attempting to eliminate the pathogen, as well as invoking a general immune response. Alongwith locally secreted and circulating antibodies, immune system components like natural killer cells, interferons and macrophages take part in the immune response.

Various immunosuppressive agents (like Viruses, Mycotoxins, Chemicals, Antibiotics etc.) hamper the functioning of the immune mechanism, making the animals more susceptible to respiratory & enteric challenges. Flocks suffering from immuno-suppression never attain optimum immunity in spite of vaccination against various diseases.

What is needed

From the above analysis, it is clear that the strategy to combat bacterial & respiratory distress in cattle should be multifold as under :

  1. Immunity development so that the infection can not set in
  2. Tackle the secondary infection(s), and eliminate chances of secondary infections
  3. Eliminate the infection, if already existing

While antibiotics do the third part (partly or fully), they are ineffective on the first or second part. Rather, many a times, they are a cause of immunosuppression. Similarly, vaccines can take care of the 1st part (with varying degree of success), but fail in 2nd part or 3rd part.

Respowell has been tested (at same dosage) to eliminate several other important pathogenic bacteria e.g. Mycobacterium Paratuberculosis, Campylobacter, Listeria, Clostridia, Mycoplasma, Pasteurella, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Haemophilus, Actinobacillus, Salmonella (Typhimirium, Dublin, Enteriditis), Leptospirosis– within 45 minutes (in vitro). Therefore, we recommend Respowell’s use as a broad spectrum Antibacterial for both bacterial, respiratory and enteric disorders.

Growell has been tested as a broad spectrum Anti – viral, immuno-stimulant & a comprehensive detoxifier. Various studies confirm Growell’s Anti-viral activity against various viruses (specially Rotavirus) both in control and challenge situations. By feeding Growell, titres improve, and other parameters e.g. TLC, Haemoglobin, PCV go up significantly suggesting its role as an immuno-modulator. Growell’s supplementation shall keep the cell immunity & overall immunity status in good shape and also not allow virus to penetrate cell walls.

Growell nullifies ill effects of various toxins e.g. Ochratoxins, Aflatoxins, T2 toxins, Ergot poisining, toxins produced by Clostridia, various feed & drug related toxins etc. Therefore, we suggest use of Growell as an Anti-viral agent, a comprehensive detoxifier and also as an immuno-stimulant.

Further, it is well known that viruses attack those bodies, which are deficient in some manner, whether immuno-deficient, or due to some infection. That is the reason, we suggest use of Respowell (alongwith Growell), so that it eliminates any infection related immuno-deficiency and also keep the respiratory system in toned up shape by chemotherapy of pathogenic bacteria. If these problems are addressed, attacks by virus themselves or in combination with other pathogenic bacteria on cattle shall be thwarted and / or have minimal effects.

Combination of Growell & Respowell shall keep several other viral & bacterial problems away. These products play a vital role in increasing the cytokine levels in animals, which proportionately increase the immune cells. These antibodies neutralize antigens that cause Mastitis, Vibrosis, Bloat & other diseases as detailed above.

Suggested Mixing ratios

Preventive program : 40 mg of Respowell & 40 mg of Growell per kg of live body weight of animal per day.
Known cases : 60 to 80 mg of Respowell & 60 to 80 mg of Growell per kg of live body weight of animal per day. Continue till required, followed by preventive dosage.

Note : Higher dosage than mentioned above can be given depending on the severity of the problem, without any negative side effects.


  • Respowell’s in vitro activity against Salmonella Dublin - (Gayatri Labortatory, Mumbai, India – 2008)
  • Respowell’s in vitro activity against Mycbacterium paratuberculosis - (Bombay Veterinary College – 2008)
  • Growell + Respowell’s field trials against John’s disease in dairy cattle - (Bombay Veterinary College – 2008)
  • Respowell’s in vitro activity against Mycoplasma agalactiae- (Bombay Veterinary College – 2006)
  • Respowell’s in vitro activity against Bacillus Anthracis- (Bombay Veterinary College – 2006)
  • Respowell’s in vitro activity against Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis- (Bombay Veterinary College – 2006)
  • Respowell’s in vitro activity against Pasteurella haemolytica- (Bombay Veterinary College – 2006)
  • Respowell’s in vitro activity against Clostridium botulism- (Bombay Veterinary College – 2006)
  • Respowell’s in vitro activity against Brucella Abortus - (Bombay Veterinary College – 2006)
  • Respowell’s antibacterial activity against Haemophilus paragallinarum (Bombay Veterinary College – 2005)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Streptococcus suis (Bombay Vet. College – 2005)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Pasteurella multocida / Bordetella bronchiseptica  (Bombay Vet. College – 2003)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (formerly Haemophilus Pheuropneumoniae). (Bombay Vet. College – 2003)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Mycoplasma gallisepticum and Mycoplasma synoviae   (Bombay Veterinary College, India – 2003)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus epidermidis. (Bombay Vet. College, India – 2003)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus. (Bombay Vet. College – 2003)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Streptococcus pyogenes (Bombay Vet. College – 2003)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Streptococcus agalactia (Bombay Vet. College – 2003)
  • Respowell’s  Antibacterial activity against Erysiperlothriz Rhusiopathiae (Bombay Vet. College – 2003)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Salmonella enteritidis, Salmonella pullorum & Salmonella typhimurium  (Bombay Vet College – 2003)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Clostridia perfringens (Bombay Vet College - 2003)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Leptospirosis pomona (Bombay Vet. College – 2003)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Brachyspira hyodysenteriae with or without faeces load (Bombay Vet. College – 2004)
  • Respowell’s Antibacterial activity against Brachyspira pilosicoli with or without faeces load (Bombay Vet. College – 2004)
  • Respowell’s antibacterial activity against Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale  (Bombay Veterinary College – 2005)
  • Respowell’s antibacterial activity against Listeria monocytogenes  (Bombay Veterinary College – 2006)
  • Respowell’s antibacterial activity against Listeria ivanovii  (Bombay Veterinary College – 2006)
  • Respowell’s antibacterial activity against Yersinia enterocolitica  (Bombay Veterinary College – 2006)
  • Respowell’s antibacterial activity against Rhodococcus equi - (Bombay Veterinary College – 2006)
  • Comparative antibiotic sensitivity chart incorporating several known antibiotics on various enteric and respiratory pathogens, their activity and that of Respowell.


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