The core of animal health management on any farm is having and implementing a structured immunisation or vaccination programme. “It is crucial to consult a veterinarian or animal healthcare professional, because the requirements of each farm are totally different. You cannot use a one-size-fits-all approach; the plan has to be tailored to your farm,” explains Dr Gillian Declercq, community state veterinarian with the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD).
An animal’s immune system is like an army protecting the animal against disease. “Like any other army, it must be trained for war in order to be ready to fight. This is exactly what vaccination does.” Vaccinating an animal exposes it to a weakened or ineffective form of a disease or toxin. This exposure trains the animal’s immune system to fight the disease when it does occur. Due to the animal’s immune system playing a role, injecting the animal with a vaccine does not automatically prevent it from contracting the disease.
Diseases on the vaccination list
There are certain state-controlled and notifiable diseases that your animals must be vaccinated against. One of the most important is brucellosis. Brucellosis is a massive and growing problem in South Africa. Vaccination is one of the most important tools to assist in controlling this disease.
Other significant diseases include:
- Lumpy skin disease.
- Clostridial diseases such as blood gut, red gut, quarter evil or black quarter. The vaccine is often available as a combination vaccine, protecting your animals against most clostridial diseases in one.
- Diseases that cause respiratory disease and calf diarrhoea, such as the rota virus and corona virus. If you are feedlotting cattle, it is important to use a vaccine that protects against lung problems.
- Pulpy kidney. This is also a clostridial disease. When choosing a vaccine against clostridial diseases, ensure that it includes pulpy kidney.
- Rift Valley fever.
Do’s and don’ts of vaccination
- Vaccines must always be kept refrigerated. If vaccines are exposed to temperatures above 8°C, they are rendered inactive. Always take along an ice brick and a cooler bag when buying vaccines and never leave vaccines in the car.
- Always read the package insert of the vaccine to ensure that you are administering it correctly, at the right time and to the right animals.
- Always consider the disease you are vaccinating against and the season in which it occurs when doing vaccinations. If, for example, a disease occurs in summer, you must vaccinate in late winter or early spring in order to ensure the vaccine is effective before the highest risk period.
- Many diseases most commonly affect young animals. In these cases, the mother must be vaccinated before the birth of her young or before pregnancy. Immunity must be transferred from the mother to her young through the colostrum and milk.
- Certain vaccines are less safe to use in pregnant animals, as it may cause abortion. This is generally true of all live vaccines.
It is vital to always consult a veterinarian or healthcare professional before implementing a vaccination programme, and to ensure that the programme is suited to your requirements. – Marike Brits, Stockfarm
This article is the first in a series of informative animal health articles and goes hand in hand with the #VideoVet series, the first of which can be viewed below:
For more information, contact your MSD Animal Health representative or phone 011 923 9300. Visit www.msd.co.za.
Thank you for the support of several role-players in creating this series: the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Gillian Declercq and the CCS veterinarians (Dr Lindsay Parvess and Dr Heidi Kuhn), MSD Animal Health, as well as Kenneth Ndlovu and the Amogelang team for their assistance and animals for demonstration.