Disease that affects cattle detected in Kentucky; one case found in Hart County

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Department of Agriculture says two cases of a new, potentially dangerous disease of cattle has been detected in Kentucky, according to Kentucky State Veterinarian Dr. Katie Flynn.

A release by the department stated Theileria orientalis Ikedia, which is a protozoon known to be carried by the Asian Longhorned tick, has been diagnosed in two beef herds, including one in Fleming County and one in Hart County. In each occurrence, a bull fell ill and died.

“The Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Office of the State Veterinarian is working closely with agriculture producers to contain these incidents and protect our herds across the state,” said agriculture commissioner Ryan Quarles. “Protecting the health of livestock in the commonwealth is a top priority of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.”

Theileria causes severe anemia in cattle as well as abortions, stillbirths, weakness, reluctance to walk and death since it infects red and white blood cells. Physical symptoms in cattle include pale mucus membranes, high fever and elevated heart and respiratory rates.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture stated that once an animal is infected with Theileria, it becomes a carrier and can spread it to other cattle in the herd. The department further stated there is no current approved treatment or vaccine for the disease, causing prevention, such as tick control measures, to be of greater importance.

The department stated that the disease cannot be spread to humans through contact and will not cause illness in humans, provided meat is properly cooked meat at a high enough temperature.