Updates on cattle lameness research and reminders on best practice were provided at the 2019 UK cattle lameness conference.
With a vaccine to prevent the painful foot lesions caused by digital dermatitis still in development, prevention rather than cure remained the most effective control route.
This was the message from Prof Stuart Carter, Liverpool Veterinary School. He explained although vaccine candidates producing ‘strong antibody responses’ had been found, one of the challenges remaining was to get a buy-in from vaccine companies.
Prof Carter said risk could be mitigated by understanding and targeting how digital dermatitis causing bacteria was spread to prevent transmission.
He said: “Digital dermatitis is a cycle disease spread by anaerobic bacteria which burrow deep in the foot, making it difficult for existing treatment methods, such as foot bathing, to get in deep enough to treat.”
And although it was commonly thought that spread was via slurry or by bringing animals already affected on to farms, Prof Carter reminded delegates of the risk posed by infectious bacteria being spread on trimming blades.
He added: “Submerging a blade in disinfectant for 20 seconds after each animal and alternating between two bladed instruments in a practical situation was shown to kill bacteria, but some disinfectants were found to be more effective than others.”