Salmonella bacteria can be found on virtually all dairies, regardless of region. Whether it starts as an undetected presence or causes a major disease outbreak depends greatly upon the exposure level of Salmonella organisms to animals.
Salmonella infections can cause dairy cattle of all ages to become severely ill. In young calves, it typically shows up as scours, often accompanied by fever. In older animals, it can cause a dramatic drop in milk production, along with fever, diarrhea, bloody stools, dehydration, weight loss, rapid breathing, and/or sloughing of skin from the extremities. Infections can be fast-acting and fatal, or can exist at a subclinical level, with no outward signs of illness.
Salmonellosis is a pervasive disease that is hard to keep out of a dairy operation. Once it is in the herd, it can be devastating to cattle health and performance. As the figure below shows, there are many routes Salmonella transmission can take.
Tips on helping reduce disease exposure:
• Make sure loaders and other feeding equipment are not used simultaneously to handle manure.
• Pasteurize waste milk and colostrum fed to calves.
• Maintain sanitary calving facilities to avoid infecting newborns.
• Keep populations of rodents, feral cats and birds low in feed storage and animal housing areas.
• Control flies throughout the dairy with common fly control methods.
• Restrict visitors and insist on biosecurity measures (such as clean boots and clothing) by all who enter the facility, including the herd veterinarian.
• Clean calf feeding utensils and oral treatment equipment with chlorhexidine (3 ounces per gallon).
• Wash boots regularly with orthophenylphenol (e.g., 1-Stroke Environ), and change and launder work clothes daily. Ideally, boots and work clothing should be left on the dairy.
• Thoroughly sanitize transport trailers, particularly when hauling young calves.