Booklet promotes health in fair animals statewideWritten by Christy Hemken
New for county fair season in 2010 is a booklet compiled by the Wyoming Livestock Board, the Wyoming Association of Fairs and the Wyoming State Fair.
Titled “Healthy Exhibition Animals: What to Watch For,” the document covers biosecurity, vet requirements, Certificates of Veterinary Inspection, conditions unacceptable for showing and basic body condition scoring.
“Over the last few years there have been some contentious events within Wyoming at the county fairs, where perhaps in some cases one vet had written a health certificate and sent animals to the fair, while another vet at the fairgrounds would not allow the animals in without another examination and clearance,” says Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan of the incentive behind the document. “There were several counties with problems with animals getting in, and some animals got in that shouldn’t have.”
Not all counties require an animal health check-in, but Logan says his hope is that with the compiled information, produced by the WLSB with contributions from veterinarians and Extension agents throughout the state, more counties will adopt a check-in process for livestock. There is no WLSB requirement that says county fairs must have a health check-in, or even that they require health certificate, though the Wyoming State Fair and several counties have required them for a number of years.
“We tried to focus on illustrating conditions instead of specific diseases,” says Logan of the information, which is subtitled “An Aid for Fair Boards, Extension Agents, Veterinarians and Exhibitors to Determine the Health Qualifications of Exhibit Animals.”
“The purpose of this booklet is to describe, both in text and pictures, conditions that many farm and pet animals may harbor, which cause them to not be allowed entrance into county or state fairs or other exhibitions to prevent spreading the condition to other show animals,” says the introduction.
“The goal with this is to prevent a disease from getting into a fairgrounds where numerous animals would be exposed and might require a quarantine, which would make a mess at a county fair,” notes Logan. “It’s up to the county, but if they choose to do it there is a model health certificate in the booklet.”
Logan emphasizes the booklet is for exhibitors, fair management, extension people and veterinarians and it can be found on county Extension websites, the Wyoming State Fair website and the WLSB website. “It’s there to be available to everybody, and its purpose is that exhibitors or the people doing the check-in know what to look for, and will hopefully get veterinary assistance and get anything they may find cleared up.”
Logan says the guidelines are a work in progress. “If veterinarians or producers see other conditions, or think of others that should be added and can send us photographs we can modify it for future years to include other things,” he notes, describing it as a living document. “That’s part of the reason we didn’t go to press with it and made it available electronically, so that it can be easily modified.”
Plans continue for state BSL3 labWritten by Christy Hemken
“What we’re looking to do is provide a biologically secure space at the state vet lab to allow us to work with organisms important to Wyoming that are classified as high-impact pathogens,” says Galey of the new lab, referencing brucellosis, plague and tularemia, all of which are frequent in Wyoming. “We commonly see these in our wildlife and livestock and we need to be able to work with them diagnostically.”
For three years now the state has considered requests for the lab’s funding, but nothing has yet worked out.
“The lab project is now in the planning state, and it’s been attached as part of a larger lab program,” says Galey. “The state wants to build a new lab in Cheyenne as well, so they’re trying to move the two as a unit.”
“Now that we have the planning, the lab project is rolling up in the queue,” says Galey.
“There was some confusion early on as to what it was we wanted to do, and I think a large amount of that confusion has been cleared up. We’re working closely with the folks at the state facilities to make sure we work well together to get the proposal put in place.”
The Cheyenne lab would house the State Crime Lab and the public health lab, as well as others. “This project would move a lot of the state labs and consolidate them in Cheyenne,” explains Galey.
Requests last winter for a modular temporary BSL3 lab were not granted by the Legislature. “My sense is that it might have been penny wise and pound foolish,” says Galey. “It was very expensive to build a temp building that would last eight years for $4 million. The decision was that if we’re going to fix the problem, we’re going to do it right. We’re looking to build a permanent BSL3 lab that will last a long time and provide a quality platform for the State Vet Lab.”
Regarding support lab space rated at BSL2, Galey says, “The whole lab is operating close to BSL2 already. With the construction of BSL3 space we’d move infectious disease operations closer to that area so there aren’t a lot of bugs moving up and down the hallways. We need to make the whole building more secure and a safer place to work for our students and staff. Renovation and reorganization would accompany the new construction, creating BSL2 and BSL3 space.”
Galey says the joint project fared “very well” with the State Building Commission several months ago. “We’re hoping that by the time the Commission meets this fall we’ll have a solid estimate on what the building might cost. Once we have the estimate it’s up to the university and the Governor to go forward with it.”
“Right now I’m devoting most of my effort toward working well with the state building people to answer their questions so we can have a credible estimate for the Governor and the Legislature to consider in the fall,” says Galey.
Galey says the goal is to gain approval on lab funding in the next legislative session, and he encourages members of the ag community to become involved. “This is something the ag industry needs to get behind if it’s going to happen, I think it’s important to ag, and we hope the ag members will get behind it.”
Swat!Written by Christy Hemken
Control insects for livestock health, comfort
As warmer temperatures approach, albeit slowly this spring, one summer constant also approaches – insects and their accompanying problems for livestock managers.
With spring snowmelt, experts across the board say the elimination of standing water will decrease insect habitat and thus the spread of disease. “If you can reduce the standing water in any way, it’s advantageous,” says Research Microbiologist Bill Wilson of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Laramie.
“Keeping the insects off the animals is what we’re most concerned about in terms of controlling diseases,” says Wyoming State Vet Walt Cook.
According to information released by Spalding Fly Predators, weeds and tall grasses attract flies looking to escape heat, so removing tall weeds from around buildings can decrease pest flies.
Also, they say to clean stalls, corrals, paddocks and other areas at no more than seven-day intervals because a house fly takes a minimum of eight days to emerge in optimum summertime temperatures.
Most insect problems for cattle come from pest insects, such as floodwater mosquitoes, horn flies, lice and ticks, rather than from diseases transmitted by insects.
“A miserable cow is an unhealthy cow, and she won’t gain weight or produce a lot of milk,” says entomologist Will Reeves with ARS. “She’s more likely to be aggressive, and is less likely to be eating and happy.”
“Those insects cause big economic damages to ranchers, but not by diseases, just by irritating the animals,” says Reeves.
Reeves says fly predators are not a silver bullet, but they do reduce the number of total pests. “None of the predators eliminate the pest, but most ranchers understand the goal isn’t to eliminate the horn fly or stable fly – which is practically impossible – but rather to reduce them so they’re not as big of a deal.”
He says the fly predators have a limited use. “They’re somewhat functional for feedlots, but not great for range.”
In horses, the number one insect-transmitted disease is West Nile virus. “All the evidence implies that vaccinating for West Nile is the solution,” says Reeves. “You can control mosquitoes, but if one infected mosquito gets through to your horse, it’s been useless. Habitat control isn’t practical, considering the cost of the horse compared to the cost of the vaccine.”
Although reporting of West Nile virus in Wyoming is patchy, Reeves says it seems to be common, with 181 cases reported in people in 2007. Cases in horses aren’t tracked as closely because so many people now vaccinate their horses.
Although cattle have been found with antibodies to West Nile virus, Reeves says he’s never heard of a problem with it, although llamas have been found susceptible.
Another horse problem is the black fly, says Reeves. “Black flies are small biting flies that can irritate horses, and they can be controlled through larvicide. Just like in cattle, they bite horses as pests and can sometimes be present in heavy number.”
Vesicular stomatitis, recently found in several Wyoming horses in two consecutive years, is transmitted by biting midges. Wilson says the disease tends to follow low-lying riverbed areas and that the biting midges don’t exist above an altitude of 6,000 feet.
“Last year there was a significant outbreak of bluetongue in sheep, which is transmitted by biting midges – a group including all the tiny biting flies,” says Reeves. “Sheep owners need to be aware of the outbreak, and there are problems with controlling bluetongue.”
Unlike West Nile virus, there are several strains of the bluetongue virus and only a vaccine against one. Further complicating control, there are very few pesticides or repellants specifically for biting midges. “We’re testing a number of new or already-released insecticides to see if they’ll protect sheep against biting midges, but they’re not specifically made for that,” says Reeves.
Reeves says sheep producers can modify biting midge habitat as a control. “If a producer has a livestock pond with shallow edges and a large mud flat, that’s where the midges breed,” he says. “They can modify that with a sheer-edged pond to reduce the number of midges on the property. Reducing the numbers means there are fewer around to transmit the virus.”
He says producers should also pay attention to temperature and timing. “In the Big Horn Basin the ranchers had sheep at high elevations and brought them down to the lower elevations at the same time the outbreak was occurring in wildlife. It’s all determined by their contract with the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management, but if they had known and had been able to hold them up in the high elevations they could have dodged the biting midges.”
“In part, the unfortunate answer is there isn’t a really good answer,” says Reeves of bluetongue. “What you want to do is take as many prepatory approaches as you can, so that if you know the virus is coming you can restrict access to your sheep by keeping them at high elevation or applying pesticide.”
“The lab has spent a number of years understanding the environmental conditions that favor an outbreak, and it depends in part of what the spring looks like and what the populations are,” says Wilson. He says bluetongue has been known to overwinter, but its success depends on a number of environmental conditions.
Cook says Wyoming tends to see cases of vesicular stomatitis and bluetongue later in the summer. “We can see West Nile any time if the mosquitoes are out, but it also tends to be later in the summer, because that’s when mosquitoes switch from birds to horses and they bite more later in the summer.”
“The cold winter could mean relief from insects this summer, but we’ll also have a lot more water, so it could be worse,” says Reeves of potential insect populations this summer.