Lower Lambing Season Losses
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Lower Lambing Season Losses

| by Les Ellison
Lower Lambing Season Losses

Fast Field Test for E.coli- K99 Pathogen

The first lambs of the lambing season are here and full of the joys of the spring yet to arrive. Delivering as early as the second week in January, the most productive ewes will give birth to twins or even triplets, with quadruplets not uncommon and the occasional delivery of quintuplets.

Large numbers of new-borns fail to thrive

Sadly, the arrival of so many newborn lambs over a relatively short time span can result in a large number of new-borns failing to thrive early, sicken or die. In well managed flocks, mortality among newborn lambs is reported to be as low as 5%, but loss rates can be as high as 20% in extreme circumstances. Every lamb lost is damaging to the economic survival of Britain’s highly pressured sheep farms.

High mortality among newborn commercial animals

One all too common cause of high mortality among newborn commercial animals is pathogenic E.coli infection. A particularly pathogenic strain of the common gut bacteria, Escherichia coli, is known in veterinary laboratories as E.coli-K99. The K99 tag refers to a molecular feature on the surface of the E.coli bacteria that differentiates it from other, less harmful strains. The feature effectively disguises the invader from the host animal’s protective system of search-and-destroy ‘phagocyte’ cells that normally seek out and engulf unwelcome bacteria rendering them harmless. Unrecognised by infection-fighting phagocytes, the multiplying bacteria infiltrate the host animal’s digestive system causing severe tissue damage and resulting in dangerous fluid loss through uncontrollable diarrhoea.

Identifying pathogenic E.coli infection

Veterinary laboratories have exploited the K99 marker as a means of identifying pathogenic E.coli infection, allowing treatment with antibiotics that can also identify, target and destroy bacteria with the K99 antigen.

The ability to quickly and confidently identify K99 E.coli is vital because severe diarrhoea and dehydration is deadly not only in newborn lambs, but also in calves and piglets. Diarrhoea in newborn animals can have multiple causes, including infection with enterotoxic Rotavirus, Coronavirus, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella and Giardia, so it can be difficult to make a quick diagnosis based on symptoms alone.

Rapid and reliable – all-in-one veterinary field test

Vetlab Supplies FASTest E.coli-K99 Strip is the genuine go-anywhere veterinary field-test for E.coli-K99 in lamb, calf and piglet faeces. Rapid and reliable, the all-in-one kit requires no refrigerated storage or laboratory equipment to produce a quick, clear-cut, colour change diagnosis of K99 infection.

FASTest E.coli-K99 Strip, and other Vetlab Supplies veterinary diagnostic kits provide timely and reliable support to the veterinary examination of animals suffering pathogenic digestive tract infections.

To find out more about our large range of veterinary diagnostic test kits visit our website: www.vetlabsupplies.co.uk or Telephone: 01798 874567