Severe Summer Scour Syndrome and Idiopathic Necrotising Enteritis

Carolyn discusses two diseases which the Cattle Expert Group have identified as possibly being encountered over the next few months

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Severe Summer Scour Syndrome and Idiopathic Necrotising Enteritis

The Cattle Expert Group have asked vets and farmers to be on the lookout for two diseases which might be encountered over the next two to three months.

Severe Summer Scour Syndrome has been recognised since 2018. This is a syndrome of diarrhoea and rapid loss of condition, sometimes with ulcers in the mouth and oesophagus, affecting first season grazing dairy calves. A high percentage of a group tends to be affected. Clinical signs begin within a month of turnout to grass. The disease is unresponsive to treatment and in most cases recognised bacterial, parasitic and viral causes have not been detected.

Idiopathic Necrotising Enteritis most commonly affects suckler calves of 6 to 12 weeks old. The main presenting signs are also diarrhoea (often grey colour) and oral ulceration; ulceration of the small intestine is characteristically identified post-mortem. Occasionally, affected calves also show respiratory signs, high temperatures or sudden death. Blood testing may indicate profoundly low white blood cell levels. The disease doesn’t tend to affect many calves within a group, but the fatality rate is high for calves that are affected.

If you think your dairy or beef calves may be showing signs of either of these diseases, please do call one of the vets to discuss it. As for many diseases, it is important to investigate these cases early in the course of the disease. Free of charge testing is available for appropriate cases, following discussion with a Veterinary Investigation Officer at one of the VI centres.

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