Livestock vaccine gets nod for Australian production

Headshot of Adam Poulsen
Adam PoulsenCountryman
Healthy cattle in a feedlot.
Camera IconHealthy cattle in a feedlot. Credit: Clare Alcock/The Kimberley Echo

A vaccine for Histophilus somni — a disease-causing pathogen that can be deadly to feedlot cattle — has been approved for production in Australia.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority has granted approval to Apiam Animal Health’s Bendigo-based ACE Laboratories to manufacture an Australian-first vaccine — which has yet to be named — for use in cattle, sheep and goats.

Histophilus somni is a common bacterium living in the nasal cavity of cattle.

Most cattle carry antibodies to the organism, but it can occasionally become aggressive and lead to disease.

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Scientists do not fully understand what causes the process.

The disease spreads through the bloodstream and wreaks havoc on respiratory, genital, nervous, circulatory and musculoskeletal systems — sometimes simultaneously.

It is endemic in Australia and has been known to cause high levels of mortality and morbidity in intensively raised cattle, especially in calves recently introduced to feedlots.

But the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s chief veterinary officer, Michelle Rodan, said she was unaware of any major outbreaks in WA.

“DPIRD is not aware of significant industry losses associated with this organism in WA, however it is not reportable (in WA or Australia), so veterinarians or producers are not obliged to report the disease,” she said.

“DPIRD recommends producers — especially those farming sheep or cattle in intensive situations, such as feedlots — discuss the management required to prevent, control or treat this organism with their veterinarian.

“There would be no reason to restrict the use of this vaccination in WA, after it has been approved by the APVMA for use in cattle and sheep in Australia.”

In Australia, infected animals are currently treated with antibiotics.

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