We can now protect against all strains of lepto circulating in our dairy herds in New Zealand.
Leptospirosis (lepto) is a disease caused by bacteria that can be spread from animal to human, otherwise known as a zoonotic disease. The impact lepto can have on-farm is devastating, with severe flu symptoms in humans and, in some cases, debilitating illness requiring hospitalisation.
A recent survey conducted by Massey University showed that half of those affected were still experiencing symptoms a staggering 8 months after diagnosis!
Leptospirosis is most commonly contracted through exposure to the urine of infected animals, either by direct contact or via contaminated water. The bacteria enter through cuts or grazes on our skin, or through the mucous membranes of our eyes, nose and mouth.
There are different types of lepto, with infected cows often showing no clinical signs. This means that working with dairy cows can pose a significant risk for contracting lepto, so preventing exposure is vital.
Since the 1970s, we have been fortunate to have highly effective cattle vaccines, which have reduced the rate of human infections dramatically.
Unfortunately, in recent years we have seen cases of lepto in farmers and staff working on vaccinated farms, many of which are thought to be due to a strain of lepto (Pacifica), which wasn’t covered by the traditional dairy cattle lepto vaccines.
Recent research suggests Pacifica could be present in almost three quarters of dairy herds nationwide.
A new vaccine, Lepto 4-WayTM, has recently been developed to provide protection against Pacifica, as well as the 3 strains (Hardjo, Pomona & Copenhageni) previously covered by your traditional vaccines.
Upgrading to Lepto 4-WayTM will likely mean a change to your current lepto vaccination schedule for 2024 - your KeyVet will discuss this with you.
We will have this in stock in February so we are happy to make plans with you now to adjust any vaccination schedules you may need to alter.
Health and safety tips
While vaccination is an integral part of your lepto management plan, strict health and safety on-farm remains paramount to protecting you and your team.
To protect yourself against lepto:
Always stand clear of urinating cows and effluent spraying;
Cover up any cuts;
Avoid eating, drinking or smoking/vaping in the pit;
Ensure good pest control and avoid possible contact with rodent urine, as rats and mice can carry other strains of lepto;
Take care around surface water and flooding after rain events, as lepto survives well in water. Effluent ponds and spreaders can also be a risk;
See a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have been infected with lepto. It can be treated with antibiotics.
A case of lepto could have a huge impact on your team at a time you can least afford it. Prevention is critical, so educating staff and upgrading your vaccine to Lepto 4-WayTM will mean you have done all you can to ensure the health and safety of you, your family and anyone who works on your farm.
Lepto 4-WayTM is a Restricted Veterinary Medicine, available only under veterinary authorisation. Registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997, No. A012030.