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Anaplasmosis in southern IL - need beef producers help

Hello all,

It has been a while since I have posted anything but I have been on the road quite extensively the last two months in southern IL.  The reason I have been on the road so much is the grant that I received from the IL Beef Association.  I have had the opportunity to meet new cattlemen through out the 27 southern county region and am grateful for them allowing me to take blood samples from their cattle.  However, I still need cattlemen to participate.  First I want to give you some background information.

Anaplasmosis is caused by the rickettsial hemoparasite Anaplasma spp. and is the most prevalent tickborne disease of cattle worldwide - endemic regions in North, Central, and South America, as well as Africa Asia, and Australia. The most common etiological agent is Anaplasma marginale, but can be infected with Anaplasma caudatum and/or Anaplasma centrale. There are at least 6 different recognized strains of A. marginale: Florida, Illinois, Virginia, Pawhuska (Oklahoma), Idaho, and Washington. Molecular research has shown that isolates from different A. marginale strains were not cross-protective when used in vaccine trials. The increasing number of geographic strains recognized that vary in genotype, antigenic composition, morphology, and infectivity for ticks most likely has resulted from extensive cattle movement. For example, Oklahoma has high genetic heterogeneity observed in strains of A. marginale can be explained by the frequent movement of cattle (stockers).

The severity of anaplasmosis depends on the species involved and age of animal. Young calves seem to have an innate resistance to the disease while the acute form generally occurs in cattle from 1 to 3 years. In cattle over 3 years, the peracute or most severe form, with rapid onset and death, predominates. If anaplasmosis is introduced into a previously naive herd the results can be devastating: a 3.6% reduction in calf crop, 30% increase in cull rate, and 30% mortality rate in clinically infected adult cattle.

Transmission of anaplasmosis occurs through blood transfer. Blood transfer must take place from an infected animal to an animal susceptible to infection. The disease commonly occurs during warm months when arthropods, both biological and mechanical, are abundant. Ticks are the most important biological vector with the Dermocentor (American dog tick or Wood tick) species implicated in most cases in the US, while mechanical transmission can occur through fly bites (horse and stable flies), mosquitoes, and blood contaminated needles and surgical instruments.

The cost of a clinical case of anaplasmosis in the U.S. has been conservatively estimated to be over $400 per animal with a total cost to the beef industry estimated to be over $300 million per year. Losses can be measured via several parameters: weight and gain losses, decreased milk production, abortion, cost of treatment, bull infertility, abortions and death.

Prevalence & Economic Impact of Bovine Anaplasmosis in Illinois

The last serological survey in 1997 reported the statewide prevalence of anaplasmosis to be between 7.1 and 10.7%. The last several years, southern Illinois cattlemen had reported the loss of several fetuses, cows, and bulls worth a conservative estimate of $100,000.

A proposal submitted and funded by the IL Beef Association with check off funds. The goals of the research are to determine in 27 southern counties the: 1) Prevalence of anaplasmosis; 2) Current control methods used by cattlemen; and 3) The economic impact of bovine anaplasmosis.

To accomplish these goals, blood samples (n =1800) from cattle and survey data from cattlemen in 27 southern counties (see figure) in Illinois will be collected. Genomic DNA will be extracted from the blood samples and Anaplasma spp. will be detected by qPCR, if present. Survey data will be collected from cattlemen throughout the 27 counties to assess control methods used and economic impact of anaplasmosis. The data will be used to estimate Anaplasma spp. prevalence at the level of the herd, county, agricultural district, and study area. Overall, this data can be a guide to veterinarians and cattlemen in planning control measures to minimize the financial loss incurred by infection with Anaplasma spp.

Cattlemen in the southern 27 counties of Illinois are being recruited to participate in one of two ways - no herd is too small!!

  1. The first way to participate is to allow the collection of blood samples from their cattle and complete a survey.
    1. A minimum of 4-5 herds per county are needed for blood sampling. The number of cattle required to be sampled on each farm is determined by their total female herd size.The main requirement is that you have facilities to work your cattle.
    1. Blood collection supplies will be provided. The blood samples can be either by Dr. Steckler, you or your herd veterinarian.
    2. A good time to collect the samples is when you normally work the cattle in the fall.
      • 1-9 cows in the herd would require 5 cows sampled or entire herd if <5 head
      • 10-19 cows in the herd would require 10 cows sampled
      • 20-49 cows in the herd would require 18 cows sampled
      • 50-99 cows in the herd would require 37 cows sampled
      • 100-199 cows in the herd would require 59 cows sampled
      • 200-499 cows in the herd would require 83 cows sampled
      • >500 cows in the herd would require 109 cows sampled
  2. The second way to participate is to complete a survey. Survey data will be aggregated and presented at cattlemen meetings.

Cattlemen will receive blood test results from their farm only. ONLY Aggregated data will be made available at cattleman meetings.  Individual producer data is NOT being shared with the and federal or state regulatory agency.

All data will remain confidential and coded such that only I will know who participated in the study.

If you are interested in participating in the study, please contact me via email ( or phone (618-695-4917).

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