New cattle disease is spreading to people

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A new cow disease also threatens farmers. According to the authorities, the first farmers have already been infected with botulism.

A new cattle disease called botulism threatens not only animals, but also people who have come into contact with the sick cattle. Farmers in particular are threatened by close contact with the sick cattle. According to confirmed information from the Ministry of Agriculture, several farmers have already fallen ill.

Several farmers from the north have already fallen ill, the authorities said. Those affected have contracted botulism in their cattle. The first signs of the chronic illness are increasing weakness (tiredness) and loss of strength, problems with urination, dry eyes, as well as frequently occurring diarrhea and constipation. This was pointed out by Prof. Dr. Dirk Dressler from the Hannover Medical School (MHH).

Increase in cases of illness
The Ministry of Agriculture in Kiel confirmed above all an increase in diseases in the district of Steinburg. About a year ago, around 850 cattle were killed in this region who suffered from muscle paralysis, movement disorders and ulcers. At that time, however, it was not yet clear how many cattle actually had botulism. According to the ARD magazine "Report Mainz", it is very likely that it was the largest proportion of cattle herds. Experts suspect that the botulism disorders were caused by improper preparation of the feed. Botulism in cattle is often caused by contaminated feed.

Is Bovine Disease Spreading?
Many farmers and people in rural areas now fear that the plague may spread further and thus spread to people. However, according to Prof. Dirk Dressler, there is no risk of mass epidemic among humans. "According to our studies, there is no evidence that the disease has massive or even life-threatening dimensions for humans," emphasized Dressler. Not all farmers who came into contact with the sick animals were infected. A transmission of the disease from person to person has also not yet been established. However, the experts do not agree on this question. In the ARD television magazine "Report Mainz", microbiologist Prof. Monika Krüger from the University of Leipzig warned of the spread of the disease among people.

The exact causes of the bovine disease "botulism" have so far hardly been investigated and current knowledge is very inadequate. But the authorities now want to ensure that the causes are analyzed in detail. Above all, it is difficult to differentiate the complaints from other possible diseases. Symptoms such as bloated stomach (bloating), delayed reflexes, fertility problems and a disturbed general condition could just as well speak for numerous other diseases. The Ministry of Agriculture considers the term "plague" to be exaggerations. It is currently not justified to speak of such dimensions as it was said.

Therapy for botulism There is currently no effective therapy against botulism. However, antitoxins and vaccines for type C and D cattle are produced in South Africa that are not approved in Germany. In order to treat cattle with it anyway, farmers must obtain a special permit. However, the use of antitoxins is often too late because the disease has mostly progressed.

Prevention Farmers can prevent the outbreak of the disease by paying attention to hygienic feed preparation. Fertilizers and silages must not contain animal carcasses. Green areas should be mowed from the inside out. Stables, pastures, drinking troughs and feed stores should be checked regularly for animal carcasses. Rats and mice can also be carriers and should therefore be controlled properly. The pastures on which the cows are kept should never be fertilized with poultry manure. (sb, October 13, 2010)

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