Theileria Orientalis found in two Kentucky cattle herds

Two cases of a new, potentially dangerous disease carried by the Asian Longhorned Tick have been detected in Kentucky.

Dr. Kate Flynn says Theileria Orientalis has been diagnosed in two beef herds, one in Fleming County (northeast Kentucky) and another in Hart County (southern Kentucky).  In each instance, a beef breeding bull became ill and died.  There is no relationship between the herds.

Once an animal is infected with the disease it becomes a carrier and can become a source of infection for other cattle in the herd.  There is no approved effective treatment or vaccine for the disease. 

The tick has been previously detected in other counties in Kentucky (Boone, Metcalfe, Floyd, Martin, Madison, Breathitt, and Perry) and it is possible that it is present and undetected in other parts of the state.

Cattle producers are urged to consider tick control measures to lessen the likelihood of infections in their herds.  Tick control measures include keeping pastures mowed and cattle restricted from wooded areas. Regular inspection of cattle for ticks and use of acaricides, such as ear tags, pourons, or back rubs, are helpful. Long-acting macrocyclic lactones (ivermectin, moxidectin, eprinomectin) have shown to be effective in tick control in field research trials. Use of clean needles for every injection reduces the spread of bloodborne pathogens.

A veterinarian should be notified in the instance of animals showing signs of lethargy or weakness.

Theileria Orientalis was also detected earlier this year in Tennessee cattle.

The USDA, in conjunction with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, is holding a webinar to discuss the impact of the Asian Longhorned Tick and associated diseases this week.  A link to registration can be found HERE.

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