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Friday, January 27, 2017

New research strategy offers hope to pastoralists battling mystery cattle disease in southern Flinders Ranges.

South Australia's peak livestock body wants more research funding to help solve mysterious cattle deaths that have left pastoralists and vets baffled for more than a century. About 30 pastoralists from the Hawker and Craddock region have met with Livestock SA and PIRSA vets to discuss a strategy to tackle the unexplained stock deaths. Termed the "November disease", the deaths typically occur within a single cattle or sheep mob without explanation from November to February in years when there is greater rain and more pasture in paddocks. Symptoms include drooling, diarrhea, neurological problems and in almost all cases, eventually leads to death, with autopsy results showing severe liver and kidney damage, intestine inflammation and brain lesions. There are a number of theories about what could be causing the unexplained deaths with pulpy kidney suggested to be the cause in 2016, but that diagnosis has since been ruled out. Other speculated causes are bacterial or fungal toxins from soil or plant matter but ultimately, the cause remains unknown. PIRSA chief veterinary officer Roger Paskin said the sporadic nature of the disease made it difficult to investigate but thus far his team had ruled out all the known traditional bacteria, viruses and infectious conditions.Dr Paskin said understanding those "ecological triggers" for the disease would be key to getting to identifying the cause. more