14 Common Ruminant Diseases: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

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What are Ruminant Diseases? Definition, Types, Causes, Impact, Prevention and Treatment

Ruminant diseases are those kind of diseases that can affect ruminant animals, such as cattle, sheep, and goats. These diseases can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites, and can result in a variety of symptoms, including fever, weight loss, and diarrhea.

Ruminant diseases can have a significant economic impact on the livestock industry negatively, as they can lead to decreased productivity and increased mortality.

Most Popular Ruminant Diseases

Fourteen (14) of some of the most common ruminant diseases are;

1. Simple Indigestion in Cattle

This is caused by a sudden change of diet, consumption of excessive quantities of finely chopped straw or indigestible food. The condition is characterised by immobility of gastrointestinal tract, which is manifested, often by lack of defecation

Avoiding excessive finely chopped straw or sudden change of food could prevent this condition. The veterinarian should be contacted whenever the condition occurs.

2. Mastitis in Cattle, Sheep and Goats

This is the inflammation of the mammary gland. Many infectious agents like Streptococcus beris, S. dysgalactiae and Coryrebacterium pyogenes cause it in cattle. In sheep, some infective agents implicated include Pasteurella haemolytica, Escherichia colt and Staphylococcus aureus, Mycoplasma agalactiae and Streptococcus agalactiae.

Features of the disease include discoloration of milk in form of bloodstained or a wateriness accompanied by clots of flakes.

This condition can be prevented and controlled by:

  • Treating all affected cows at dry off period;
  • Treating all clinical cases as they occur,
  • Culling chronically affected animals;
  • Dipping the teats of animals after each milking especially in cattle; and
  • General hygiene of all milking utensils and personnel.

3. Tetanus

This disease is caused by Clostridium tetani. It is manifested as limb stiffness which is followed by muscle tremor, lockjaw, prolapse of third eye lid, marked hyperesthesia, bloat and wide stance.

Prevention can be achieved by: Proper skin and instrument disinfection at castration, docking and shearing time. These operations are supposed to be carried out in clean surroundings. Also, active immunisation of all susceptible animals in areas as well as the vaccination of newborn lambs could prevent the disease.

4. Salmonellosis

This is a disease caused by various infectious agents as Salmonella dublin, S. typhimurium and S. abortus ovis. It is characterised by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, which is followed by dysentery with whole blood being passed in large clots and lack of milk in lactating ruminants. There is also abdominal pain, rolling and groaning.

Prevention is by: Preventing carrier animals from entering the farm. Avoiding contaminated foodstuffs, especially, feeds of animal origin. Emphasising vigorous disinfections of the farm. Supplying water in troughs without faecal contamination.

5. Liver Fluke Disease

Members of worms called Fascioloides and Dicrocoelium generally cause this condition. In Nigeria, the commonest causative agent is Fasciola gigantica. There are three forms of this disease: acute, sub-acute and chronic types. Features include; death without clinical signs, dullness, weakness, lack of appetite, weight loss, submandibular oedema (bottle jaw) and shedding of wool.

Prevention can be achieved by: Provision of balanced nutrition. Vaccination of all animals in enzootic areas. Control of the host snails in the environment.

6. Pimply Gut Disease

This condition is caused by the infestation of animals with worms of Oesophagostomum species. In cattle, the worm is O. radiatum or O. venulosum. In sheep and goats, the worms are O. columbianum, O. venulosum and O. asperum. This condition is seen in affected animals as emaciation and the passage of soft stool with lots of mucus.

The major losses are caused by failure to thrive. The damage done to intestines of affected animals, by the presence of necrotic nodules, renders them unsuitable for use as sausage casings.

7. Hookworm Disease

This is a disease caused by infestations with hookworms, which are usually small reddish roundworms, which inhabit the small intestine of their hosts. In cattle, Bunostomum phlebotomum is the most important hookworm. In sheep and goats, Bunostomum trigonocephalum and Gaigeria pachyscelis are important hookworms.

The worms cause poor growth and blood loss manifested by anemia and generalised mild abdominal pain, prostration and death in 2-3 days.

Prevention of this condition is always by: avoiding wet surroundings in pastures, yards, and barns. Also, pens should be cleansed frequently and ample bedding provided. Avoid heavy stocking of sheep and calves in small pens.

8. Haemonchosis

This disease causes heavy death losses, poor growth and decreased production in ruminants. In sheep, losses occur mostly in lambs, especially those recently weaned, but matured sheep may also be affected. Poor growth in lambs results from a heavy infestation with the worms. Haemoncus contortus is the most common species in sheep and goats.

However, in cattle H. placae is the most common. This organism inhabits the abomasum. In acute form of the disease, lambs and young sheep are found dead without premonitory signs. Other signs observed include lethargy and muscular weakness, pallor of conjuctivae, and generalised oedema especially under the lower jaw and vertical abdomen. Most cases have (constipation rather than diarrheoa).

Prevention is by: Avoidance of pasture contamination by affected animals and improved plan of nutrition for young and adult animals on the farm.

9. Foot and Mouth Disease

This is a disease characterised by fever and vesicular eruptions in the mouth and on the foot. It is an extremely contagious, disease of cloven B footed animals. The causative organism is a virus with many strains differing from one geographical location to the other. Cattle are the most susceptible species while sheep are not.

Clinically, the onset of infection is heralded by a fall in milk production and a high fever. There is also dejection and loss of appetite followed by pain due to the inflammation in the mouth. Hence, the animal salivates profusely. Also simultaneously, vesicles appear on the feet. there may be abortion in female animals.

Prevention of this condition is by: Vaccination using the killed trivalent vaccines for all animals in the affected farm.

Slaughter policy may be applied to the farm where the disease has been diagnosed to prevent spread to other farms. A complete embargo on the importation of animals and animal products from the countries where the disease is enzootic. Control the movement of personnel from other farms to your farm.

10. Rinderpest

The causative organism of this disease is a morbilli virus. The condition is an acute, highly contagious disease characterised by high fever and erosion of the mucosa of the alimentary tract. Historically, rinderpest has been one of the most devastating diseases of cattle. Loss of appetite, a drop in milk yield, lacrimation and a starring hair coat, nasal discharges and diarrhea are some of the clinical features of the disease.

Prevention of this condition can be achieved by: Periodic vaccinations of all susceptible livestocks. Complete elimination of all affected animals. Treatment is not advisable to avoid danger of disseminating the disease.

11. Viral Diarrhoea of Calves, Lambs and Kids

The disease is marked by a sudden onset of profuse diarrhoea with pale yellow, mucoid faeces. The most commonly involved viruses are rotavirus and Corona virus. Recovery may occur in a few days.

The prevention is by: Minimising the degree of exposure of the newborn to infection agents by adequate management of pregnant animals at the time of parturition. Avoiding overcrowding of pen. Maintenance of good sanitation, and Vaccination of the newborn, and dams during pregnancy.

There is no specific therapy for this disease. Veterinarians can be contacted to treat possible presence or occurrence of enteric and systemic bacterial infections.

12. Orf Disease of Sheep and Goats

This is a highly infectious viral disease, which is manifested by the development of pustules and scabby lesions on the muzzle and lips. This disease also occurs in humans working among infected sheep and among Abattoir workers.

Prevention of this disease is by: isolation and treatment of affected animal and vaccination of the remaining ones.

13. Kata of Goats and Sheep

This is an acute, highly contagious viral disease manifested by fever, loss of appetite, nasal discharge and respiratory distress. The clinical disease resembles what is observed in rinderpest disease of cattle except that severe respiratory distress is very common in Kata.

Prevention could be affected by: Prevention of new stock from being introduced to existing stocks especially when the new animals were just purchased from a livestock market. Or By vaccination.

14. Diseases caused by Trypanosome

Trypanosomes are protozoa parasites transmitted principally by Glossina species of tsetsely. The disease is caused by Trypanosoma brucei, T. congolence, T. virax and T. simiae; T. evansi, T. equipaduan, and T. cnei in ruminants and pigs, horses and camels, and in dogs and humans respectively. Intermittent fever, dullness and visibly swollen lymph nodes characterise the disease.

Prevention of trypanosomiasis in enzootic regions involves control of tsetse fly population, prophylactic treatment of susceptible animal and use of trypano-tolerant animals.

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