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Dog mess can endanger cattle
BREDY Veterinary Centre vet Barry O’Mahony is keen to alert the general public to the dangers of dog poo – not just to humans but to animals.
He said: “In West Dorset, we are very fortunate to have an amazing network of public pathways for people to walk and exercise their dogs.
“Not even several summer deluges could dampen the publics’ enthusiasm for enjoying the stunning vistas’ on offer.
“In contrast to public areas, there is generally a ‘laissez faire’ attitude to collecting dog poo in and around public pathways.
“I am taking this opportunity to discuss a condition that affects cattle called ‘neosporosis’ and the important role that the public can play in its control.
“Neosporosis is a disease caused by a protozoan parasite, Neospora caninum.
“It is the most frequently diagnosed cause of abortion in cattle in the UK.
“Cattle can be infected without showing clinical signs and infection can enter the herd either through environmental contamination from dog poo or through the purchase of infected animals.
“Dogs are the definitive host of the parasite and rarely show any clinical signs of disease.
“Dogs which ingest infected tissues can shed infected eggs.
“These can persist and survive in the environment for several months, so the general public may not appreciate that pasture contamination can persist until the following year.
“Cattle who ingest these oocysts can become infected.
“A recent study showed one-fifth of cows that experienced abortion in the UK have been infected by Neospora caninum.
“Several on-farm steps can be made to reduce the risk of transmission and eradicate the disease.
“The general public can play a vital role in reducing the spread of this disease.
“The true incidence of Neospora in dogs is unknown, however the risk of transmission between dogs and cattle is drastically reduced if dogs faeces are removed from pasture grazed by cattle.
“This condition represents a huge financial loss to farmers who at present are struggling in the current economic climate. “The simple message to dog owners is if your dog does a poo on grazing land, even if no cattle are grazing on it at the time, please remove and dispose of it carefully, where possible.
“It will be greatly appreciated by the cows and farmers of West Dorset.”