WA Livestock Disease Outlook - for producers

Downer cow and reluctance to stand

  • A six-year-old Angus cow appeared nervous and was reluctant to stand.
  • The cow was in the last trimester of pregnancy, and was found to have an inactive rumen and upper gastrointestinal system. Unfortunately the animal died during examination.
  • Post-mortem revealed abundant contents and fluid in the rumen, but scant dry faeces in the lower gastrointestinal system.
  • Apart from moderate changes in the liver, there were no other significant findings.
  • A diagnosis of ‘vagus indigestion’ was made on the basis of history and post-mortem findings.
  • Testing for transmissible spongiform encephalitis (TSE) was negative.

Testing animals in the correct age range with nervous signs for TSE and showing that they do not have the disease is a critical part of Australia’s proof of freedom from TSE. A recent diagnosis of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE – mad cow disease) in Canada using similar methodology demonstrates the effectiveness of this form of surveillance.