Hemorrhagic Septicemia Disease Management in Cattle: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention and Management of Disease

Hemorrhagic septicemia (HS) is a serious bacterial infection affecting water buffalo, cattle, and bison in tropical Asia, primarily in India and Southeast Asia. It is a very deadly disease regarded as the most economically significant bacterial disease of water buffalo and cattle in these areas. The disease is devastating for smallholder farmers with poor husbandry practices and free-range management. It is listed as an animal disease by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Hemorrhagic Septicemia Disease Management in Cattle

Hemorrhagic Septicemia Disease Management in Cattle

Causes of Hemorrhagic Septicemia Disease in Cattle

Hemorrhagic septicemia (HS) in cattle is caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida, specifically serotypes B:2 and E:2. These serotypes have been identified as the primary cause of classical HS in most areas where the disease is endemic, with serotype E:2 found only in Africa.

Other P. multocida serotypes can also cause septicemic pasteurellosis, which is clinically identical to HS. However, this has been documented more frequently in wild ruminants and in geographical locations not impacted by HS, such as the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

Disease cycle of Hemorrhagic Septicemia Disease

Cattle hemorrhagic septicemia (HS) can infect 5% of healthy water buffalo and cattle infected by a modest number of germs. The disease is most frequent during the rainy season, where high temperatures, humidity, and other stresses (such as concurrent diseases) can cause epidemics. Contact with infected fluids or contaminated feed/water causes infection. It starts in the tonsil and spreads fast, causing bacteremia, tissue damage, and cytokine response. 

Clinical symptoms may arise within 1-3 days, and death may occur between 8 and 24 hours later. In endemic locations, the illness affects older calves and young adults with varied morbidity and death. However, it can cause severe morbidity and mortality in nonendemic places.

What are the Symptoms of Hemorrhagic Septicemia Disease?

  • Hemorrhagic septicemia can present as a peracute or acute disease with fever, hypersalivation, nasal discharge, labored respiration, apathy or restlessness, reluctance to move, lacrimation, and subcutaneous swelling in the pharyngeal region.
  • The swelling can extend to the ventral neck and brisket and may cause progressive respiratory distress, cyanosis, terminal recumbency, and sometimes abdominal pain with diarrhea.
  • Characteristic lesions include swelling of the subcutis and muscle with clear blood-tinged edema fluid, widespread congestion with petechiae and ecchymoses, and major hemorrhages in the pharyngeal and cervical lymph nodes.
  • Pulmonary congestion, edema, interstitial pneumonia, and gastroenteritis may also be present.

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Dairy Farming Feeding Arrangement

Diagnosis of Hemorrhagic Septicemia Disease

Diagnosis of Hemorrhagic Septicemia (HS) is based on history, clinical signs and lesions, and laboratory tests. Clinical diagnosis in endemic areas is made by considering history, lapses in vaccination, environmental conditions, and the typical signs and lesions of the disease.