Mystery 'virus' wiping out mobs of cattle
Drooling, diarrhoea then death: Ivanhoe farmer Terry Huntly says the '3D syndrome' has killed 500 cattle since it began its haphazard spread through NSW in 2006.PT3M31S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-32ft5 620 349 February 11, 2014
A mystery disease has struck cattle in regions of western NSW for the third time in seven years, leaving hundreds of animals dead and baffling veterinarian experts.
Known as the 3D syndrome, the disease triggers drool, diarrhoea and death, and so far as been identified on properties in the Mossgiel-Hay-Ivanhoe region.
Terry Huntly, a farmer near Mossgiel, has lost about 52 head of cattle in the latest outbreak, which began in October, after losing more than 40 in the previous episode in 2009. A third outbreak affected cattle in the region in 2006.
Deadly sickness: A cow that died of 3D syndrome on Barwonnie Station, near Ivanhoe. Photo: Nick Moir
“The animals start to go dull in the coat” before the other symptoms developed, Mr Huntly said. “We need an answer.”
The NSW Department of Primary Industries has taken samples and tested for exotic viruses but have so far failed to pin down the cause.
“This is a serious problem and we are committed to investigating this disease and identifying the cause of the problem,” said Graham Bailey, cattle health co-ordinator for the department.
Tests have ruled out foot and mouth disease and rinderpest, a viral disease affecting cattle, among others.
“We have mounting evidence that an infectious cause is unlikely,” Dr Bailey said.
He said the problem might be a fungus carried by plants that the animals ate.
Mr Huntley said farmers wanted to see more urgency from authorities before the problem spread further.
“Why not send their plant people out here?” he said. “We were crying for them to come out.”