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EHD: 'A Cold For Cows'



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 It’s a disease that is killing hundreds of deer in southeastern South Dakota, and now it is affecting cattle in the area.

EHD is a disease transmitted by flies, and although it isn’t as deadly for cattle, it has farmers watching their herds closer than ever.
 
For feedlot operators like Bryan Nagel, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD is making an already difficult season, even more difficult.  

 “It's something you can spot, but you just have to monitor your cow herd or feed lot a little more often,” said Bryan Nagel, a feedlot operator out of Avon.

Although it wasn't officially diagnosed, Nagel believes he has lost a couple animals to the virus.

“We lost a couple calves here in a matter of a week, that really shouldn’t have happened,” said Nagel.

Dr. James Pajl said for cattle, EHD isn't nearly as harmful as it is for deer.

The cow generally runs a fever and develop sores in the mouth,” said Dr. James Pajl, of the Yankton Veterinary Clinic.

Dr. Pajl also said the sores cause pain, so they stop eating. Their back legs may also become sore, making them lame.

 “Their not willing to eat very well, they just lay around. They just really feel bad,” said Pajl.

And to help with the sore mouth, farmers have taken to a new approach of feeding to make sure sick animals don't starve.

“Give them a better, more palatable ration,” said Nagel. “Like chopped hay, chopped silage. Something they can digest and eat a little easier.”

If a cow has EHD, all it takes is a shot of an antibiotic, 10 to 14 days, and it's back to normal.

"They come back to normal as far as I can tell, and they probably carry some type of immunity for a period of time,” said Pajl.

And if you’re worried about contaminated meat, you don't need to be, because like this sign says, beef could be what's for dinner.

"You know education is key, whether it's for ourselves or for our consumers to let them know, no, its not in the meat,” said Nagel.

For now, farmers just wait for it to get colder, so flies carrying the disease die off, and the virus stops spreading.

Pajl also said the drought has led to less nutritious feed, which has impacted the cattle’s immune system.

He also said the state sent out a notice to all veterinarians about EHD stating there were 40 herds with the virus. He said he expects that number has risen since.
     
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