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Understanding Anaplasmosis Risk                                                        The Midwest Cattleman · September 30, 2021 · P9

                                By Bob Larson DVM
      Dr. Bob Larson is Professor, Production Medicine at Kansas State University’s College of
      Veterinary Medicine and Executive Director, Veterinary Medical Continuing Education.

         Anaplasmosis is a serious  the disease are likely to die.
      disease that affects cattle in  If infected cattle are able to
      an increasing larger area of  survive, they are not likely to
      the country.  A tiny organism  have severe problems due to
      called  Anaplasma margina- the disease in the future, but
      le attaches to red blood cells  they remain as carriers for the
      which leads  to destruction of  rest of their life. In some cases,
      those cells and a decrease in  these carrier infections can be
      the ability  of affected cattle                 continued on page 31
      to carry oxygen in their blood.
      If more red blood cells are de-
      stroyed than the animal can
      replace with new cells – the
      blood becomes watery, the ani-
      mal becomes anemic, and other
      signs of infection can occur,
      including: fever, depression,
      dehydration, rapid or difficult
      breathing, and yellow discolor-
      ation of the mucus membranes
      of the gums, around the eyes,
      and the vulva.
         Sometimes affected animals
      become excited and aggres-
      sive when not enough oxygen
      reaches the brain. Young ani-
      mals are often able to recover
      because they can make new
      red blood cells very quickly,
      but older animals do not pro-
      duce new cells very fast, and
      they can quickly become very
      anemic and have very low oxy-
      gen levels in the blood leading
      to severe illness or death.
         Anaplasmosis is primarily
      carried from cattle to cattle
      by ticks, but the movement
      of blood from infected cattle
      to susceptible cattle can also
      be accomplished by biting
      flies such as horseflies, or by
      human activities such as via
      blood-contaminated needles,
      dehorning instruments, tat-
      too pliers, or palpation sleeves.
      The disease has historically
      been a problem in the south-
      ern parts of the United States
      but has now spread north so
      that cattlemen in many im-
      portant beef-producing areas
      need to be aware of the prob-
      lem. In herds that become ex-
      posed to the organism, cattle
      of any age can become infect-
      ed, but the severity of illness
      is usually mild in young cattle
      and increases with age.
         In cattle that become in-
      fected when they are 3 years
      of age or older, 30% to 50%
      of animals showing signs of
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