Annual Lepto vaccination is essential for both man and beast!
Leptospirosis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can affect both the farmer and his cows.
In humans the infection can be acquired from infected cows by coming in contact with their urine. This could be as little as a flick in the face with a wet tail or urine splashing in the parlour.
Once affected, people may become tired, depressed or suffer from flu‐like symptoms. Infected cows and heifers show fertility signs including abortion, the birth of mummified calves, still births or the birth of weak calves. Dairy cows may also suffer from milk drop syndrome.
Leptospirosis is widespread in Ireland, with over 70% of dairy herds and approximately 80% of beef herds infected. In this country the disease in cattle is caused Leptospira Hardjo. There are two strains (types) within the Hardjo group, borgpetersenii and interrogans, which although genetically different are indistinguishable serologically i.e. it is not possible to tell these two stains apart on routine blood tests.
Once animals become infected, the bacteria colonises the kidneys and cattle may become carriers who shed the bacteria intermittendly in their urine and pass the infection into the environment and infect other cattle and their stockmen.
Traditionally vaccination programmes started when heifers were about to go to the bull and the yearly booster was also given in the spring to the main herd.
This is a busy time of year, and now that Spirovac is available to vaccinate against Lepto hardjo, which provides 12 months duration of protection, the vaccine can be used when most convenient from a management perspective. E.g. it could be used at drying off.