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Control of digital dermatitis in cattle: understanding transmission & spread of disease - AW1010

Lameness in cattle is a major welfare issue and a cause of significant economic loss. Digital dermatitis is a major and increasingly common cause of cattle lameness and the prevalence on some farms may be 40 – 60% during the winter housing period. It is essential that we understand the origins, aetiology and spread of digital dermatitis. This proposal brings together the relevant research workers in this field in the UK to form a team with a full range of scientific skills to address this serious problem. Published evidence very strongly suggests that the causal organism associated with digital dermatitis in cattle is a Treponema spp. and several different serotypes have been identified from lesions. The main objective of this research proposal is to investigate the origin and transmission of pathogenic Treponeme spp., isolated from lesions in lame cows, using epidemiological techniques based on molecular and immunological detection systems. This approach will allow determination of route of transmission between animals and should identify how animal husbandry could be modified to reduce spread of disease within and between farms. A cross-sectional epidemiological study between farms will enable identification of those conditions which promote spread of infection and conversely those which limit spread. In addition, the role of the farm environment as an infection reservoir will be determined, as will the possible spread from (or to) sheep The involvement of other infectious agents, specifically Fusobacterium necrophorum and Dichelobacter nodosus, will also be investigated, in particular with regard to any relationship to spirochaete infection. Results of this study should enable the primary and predisposing causes of digital dermatitis to be identified, and provide the basis for devising practical and effective control measures against the disease, thereby improving welfare of cattle in the U.K and reducing costs to the industry. The results will be made available to all those working in the dairy industry.
01: Microbiology. Identify and characterise treponemes and other bacterial species isolates from digital dermatitis lesions.
02: Origin and transmission of Treponemes.
03: Epidemiology studies to identify the processes that determine the prevalence and severity of digital dermatitis that provide the basis for developing future control strategies. This requires successful completion of 01 and 02 to provide the necessary tools to develop and test models.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Control of Digital Dermatitis in Cattle: Understanding Transmission and Spread of Disease   (638k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2002

To: 2006

Cost: £352,422
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Liverpool
Animal Diseases              
Animal Health              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare