Disease Prevention and Animal Health
Taking good care of animal health does not only mean treating an animal when it is sick. It also means helping the animal to avoid becoming ill.
It is very important to realize that, even though treatment may eliminate the cause of the disease efficiently, the disease has already hurt the body. The effects of the disease may take longer to heal (if they do at all) than the time needed to eliminate the disease itself. Consequently, production losses may continue to be suffered after the animal has seemingly recovered. Examples of such production losses are retarded growth in calves and reduced milk production of cows after illness.
The best is to discuss disease prevention measures with your district veterinary officer. He will give you advice that applies to your situation.
Most diseases can be prevented by the same measures that enhance production! General preventive measures are:
- Hygiene : Cleaning and disinfecting. Remember disinfection is useless with out cleaning thoroughly beforehand.
- Water : Always ensure free access to clean and fresh water.
- Good feed and regular feeding
- Shelter for protection against bad weather (rain, wind and cold, or intensive sunshine).
- Regular light exercise.
- A peaceful environment (avoid unrest and stress).
Another precaution to be taken is quarantine. This means isolating sick animals (during their illness) and newcomers (for about six weeks) from the rest of the herd. This measure is often hard to implement, but helps to avoid the spread of contagious diseases to other animals.
Other diseases require other specific measures. These can be either:
- Vaccinations : When an animal is vaccinated against a specific disease, the body of the animal will react to it, but the animal does not develop the disease. However, the animal’s body has then been prepared to withstand an attack by this specific disease in its real form. Sometimes a vaccination against a disease will protect the animal all its life against this disease, but most vaccinations have to be repeated after a certain amount of time to ensure protection.
NOTE: Vaccinations are not available for all diseases.
- Preventive treatment : Sometimes we know a certain disease always occurs at the same time of the year. In some cases it can be useful to treat animals with medicine before we actually see the sickness in them. This will prevent them from becoming weak and avoid production losses. For example, preventive treatment against worms can be given before and after the rainy season.