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Bacterial infections rise

Salmonella and leptospirosis infections are becoming a problem for the East Coast of the North Island, Beef and Lamb says.

Beef and Lamb has urged farmers to protect themselves, their families, and their stock as cases of salmonella and leptospirosis rise in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Senior advisor for biosecurity and animal welfare Will Halliday said leptospirosis lives in water, and spikes of the disease are often seen after flood events, while bad weather can also increase the spread of salmonella.

Leptospirosis can infect all mammals and sits in the kidneys and genital tract of infected animals.

Halliday said people who came into contact with an infected animal’s urine were most at risk of contracting the disease, but the bacteria could also live in soil and water contaminated with animal urine.

Healthy, well-grown animals are more likely to spread leptospirosis to people through their urine, posing a risk during milking, calving, lambing, shearing, as well as slaughtering and processing stock.

“All mammals can be infected by leptospirosis, and we’re currently seeing an increased number of cases in dogs,” Halliday said.

He said the bacteria could enter the body through scrapes, wounds, and mucous membranes, “so it’s important for farmers to protect themselves from animal urine by wearing protective clothing, covering wounds, and washing thoroughly after handling animals”.

Freestanding water or puddles could be a source of leptospirosis on farms, Halliday said, and “can include puddles around water troughs where animals may have urinated”.

Leptospirosis symptoms include headaches, flu-like symptoms, and muscle and gut pain, but it can present in a number of ways.

“The best form of prevention of salmonella and leptospirosis is for farmers to vaccinate their animals to stop people getting sick, prevent infections and reduce stock loss.”

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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