Signs of BATOG
The signs associated with BATOG are due to the destruction of red blood cells. Common signs, particularly in late pregnant or recently calved animals, include:
- anaemia and pallor
- red urine
- jaundice (yellowing of mucous membranes)
- late stage abortions and premature births
- sudden death.
Other signs include:
- listlessness or depression
- lack of appetite or weight loss
- wobbly gait
- laboured breathing.
Note that the signs of other diseases can be similar to BATOG, so it is important to confirm the diagnosis with laboratory testing. Diseases that can look similar to BATOG include trace element imbalances, milk fever and leptospirosis.
There are no drugs registered for the treatment of BATOG in Australia.
Providing low stress nursing care is critical for affected animals. Do not move affected animals long distances. They should be provided with good feed, fresh water and shade. Multivitamins may be beneficial and blood transfusions can be considered in valuable animals. Tick treatments may be indicated when individual animals are suffering from blood loss due to the number of ticks.
In general, antibiotics and Imidocarb as treatment for acute cases have not been found to be effective by Australian or New Zealand veterinarians. Buparvaquone is not registered in Australia due to the persistence of chemical residues that would impact our export markets.
Note: Off-label use of veterinary chemicals is permitted in individual cattle, but the veterinarian must provide to the owner of the animal an off-label written statement, which includes an appropriate meat and/or milk withholding period, which ensures treated animals are free of chemical residues at slaughter. For information on the supply of off-label veterinary chemicals, see the webpage Veterinary chemical users.
Managing cattle in BATOG areas
Maintaining a healthy herd by implementing good management practices is essential to minimise the effect BATOG has on your herd.
Management plans should be made in consultation with your private veterinarian.
These plans should focus on:
- maintaining good nutrition
- providing appropriate mineral supplementation (e.g. copper, cobalt and selenium)
- an up-to-date vaccination program (e.g. vibrio, leptospirosis, bovine viral diarrhoea virus)
- strategic drenching and parasite control
- close monitoring of cattle (particularly before and during calving)
- treatment and management of clinically unwell cattle.
Attempts to control ticks on cattle are not expected to be effective in preventing BATOG. The bush tick only spends a small amount of time on animals and most of their life on pasture. They are also hard to detect in their immature stages.
Cattle movement and BATOG
BATOG is likely to only be seen where the bush tick is present. Movement of infected cattle may hasten the movement of BATOG to new areas where the tick occurs.
When buying new cattle, it is important to assess the risk of them contracting or carrying BATOG when they arrive on your property.
Naïve cattle (i.e. cattle that have not been exposed to BATOG) are the most likely to be severely affected if they contract BATOG during pregnancy or calving. Ensuring cattle are purchased as healthy replacement heifers with time to be exposed and develop immunity to BATOG before becoming pregnant may decrease the risk of BATOG-associated losses.
When selling or moving cattle from known BATOG areas to properties outside BATOG areas, treat animals before movement with a minimum of a macrocyclic lactone (ML) or combination drench and an insect growth regulator (IGR) to reduce the movement of ticks with the cattle. The establishment of the bush tick on new properties will depend on the local environment.
If cattle destined for abattoirs or saleyards are treated, ensure you observe the withholding period (WHP) of any products used.
What do I do if I suspect BATOG in my cattle?
There are subsidies available for testing of cattle showing signs of BATOG.
If you suspect your cattle may have BATOG or another disease, call your private veterinarian or local DPIRD Field Veterinary Officer.
Producers play a vital role in Western Australia’s animal health surveillance system, which helps protect our $2 billion annual export market.
You can find your nearest DPIRD Field Veterinary Officer contact on the Livestock Biosecurity contacts page.