Vaccination key to healthy animals

More than half of the infectious diseases listed in the latest Ruminant Veterinary Association of South Africa’s (RuVASA) disease report could have been prevented through proper vaccination, according to Dr Faffa Malan, manager of RuVASA.

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With the exception of bovine malignant catarrhal fever (snotsiekte), a vaccine was available to prevent all of the infectious diseases listed in the report, he said. Work was currently being carried out to develop a vaccine for snotsiekte.

According to Malan, the aim of the disease report was to inform farmers of the health threats in their area, so they and their vet could sit down and draw up an animal health management programme to reduce risk. This programme should then be regularly updated as new risks were identified.

However, despite the report and its purpose, there were accounts in different areas of animals dying because they had not been vaccinated.

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“New brucellosis outbreaks are reported each month, even though farmers are required by law to vaccinate their animals against this disease when heifers are between four and eight months old,” he said. “In the latest report, seventy cattle died in one of the practice areas because the cattle weren’t vaccinated against black quarter.”

Malan emphasised the importance of proper vaccine administration. Syringes and needles must be sterilised by being boiled in hot water for at least 15 minutes, and, as far as possible, a separate needle should be used for each animal.

The vaccine bottle should be shaken before the syringe is filled, and vaccines requiring mixing or preparation must be administered immediately afterwards, and not set aside for use at a later stage.

Vaccines should be kept out of sunlight and preferably in cooler bags on ice. Vaccines should not be mixed with other vaccines or other preparations, such as antibiotics, vitamins or other medicines. Malan warned that it took time for a vaccine to create antibodies – between two to three weeks for the first vaccination and 24 to 36 hours for booster vaccinations.

“That is why it is so important to vaccinate animals before there is a disease outbreak,” he said.

To see this month’s disease report visit