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Home: Veterinary Services: GLOSSARY of ANIMAL DISEASES

African Horse Sickness

African horse sickness (AHS) is a serious insect-borne disease of horses, mules and donkeys which is spread by a virus. It is endemic to (occurs naturally on) the African continent, and is characterised by respiratory and circulatory damage, accompanied by fever and loss of appetite.

Read more here.

Avian Influenza:

Avian flu (also "bird flu", "avian influenza", "bird influenza"), means "flu from viruses adapted to birds", but is sometimes mistakenly used to refer to both other flu subsets (such as H5N1 flu) or the viruses that cause them (such as H5N1).

"Bird flu" is a phrase similar to "Swine flu", "Dog flu", "Horse flu", or "Human flu" in that it refers to an illness caused by any of many different strains of flu viruses such that the strain in question has adapted to the host. "Avian flu" differs in being named after an entire vertebrate class with 8,80010,200 species. All known avian flu viruses belong to the species of virus called Influenza A virus. All subtypes (but not all strains of all subtypes) of Influenza A virus are adapted to birds, which is why for many purposes avian flu virus is the Influenza A virus (note that the "A" does not stand for "avian").

Adaptation is sometimes partial or multiple so a flu virus strain can be partially adapted to a species or adapted to more than one species. Flu pandemic viruses are human adapted and also bird adapted. Being adapted to one species does not mean another species can not catch it; nor does it mean it can not adapt to another species. For more information, read the following Wikipedia link.

Cick here for the World Organisation for Animal Health Updates by country of Avian Flu outbreaks.

Bovine Brucellosis:

Brucellosis, also called undulant fever or Malta fever, is a zoonosis (infectious disease transmitted from animals to humans) caused by bacteria of the genus Brucella. It is primarily a disease of domestic animals (goats, pigs, cattle, dogs, etc) and humans and has a worldwide distribution, mostly now in developing countries.

Cattle affected with Brucella abortus have high incidences of abortions, or calve weak offspring, arthritic joints, and retention of after-birth, known as retained placenta. Males can also harbor the bacteria in their reproductive tracts, namely seminal vesicles, ampullae, testicles, and epididymides.

Click here to read the complete Wikipedia link.
Download National Department of Agriculture infopak on identification and treatment.

Classic Swine Fever (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome)

Classical swine fever (CSF) or hog cholera (also sometimes called pig plague based on the German word Schweinepest) is a highly contagious disease of pigs and wild boar. Swine fever causes fever, skin lesions, convulsions and usually (particularly in young animals) death within 15 days.

Click here for complete Wikipedia entry.
Photo gallery of symptoms here.

Mad Cow disease

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) commonly known as "mad cow disease", is a fatal, neurodegenerative disease of cattle, which infects by a mechanism that surprised biologists on its discovery in the late 20th century. While never having killed cattle on a scale comparable to other livestock diseases, such as foot and mouth and rinderpest, BSE has attracted wide attention because it seems possible to transmit the disease to humans; it is thought to be the cause of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), sometimes called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD), a human brain-wasting disease.

Click here to read the complete Wikipedia entry.

Foot and Mouth Disease

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD, Latin name Aphtae epizooticae), sometimes called hoof-and-mouth disease, is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal viral disease of cattle and pigs. It can also infect deer, goats, sheep, and other bovids with cloven hooves, as well as elephants, rats, and hedgehogs. Humans are affected only very rarely.

Foot-and-mouth disease is characterized by high fever that declines rapidly after two or three days; blisters inside the mouth that lead to excessive secretion of stringy or foamy saliva and to drooling; and blisters on the feet that may rupture and cause lameness. Adult animals may suffer weight loss from which they do not recover for several months as well as swelling in the testicles of mature males, and in cows, milk production can decline significantly. Though most animals eventually recover from FMD, the disease can lead to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and death, especially in newborn animals. Some infected animals remain asymptomatic, that is, they do not suffer from or show signs of the disease; but they are carriers of FMD and can transmit it to others.

Click here to read the Wikipedia entry.

Lumpy skin disease

Lumpy skin disease is a virus, spread by biting insects, that affects cattle. It causes fever and the formation of painful lumps of dead tissue throughout the animal's body, which are visible when they form under the skin and inside the mouth. These lumps become hard, and can fall off, leaving large sores. Cattle are sick and do not eat well for long periods of time, resulting in a decrease in milk and meat production. This disease can also cause infertility in bulls if it affects the testes, and can damage skins significantly. Lumpy skin disease can be prevented by vaccination.

Newcastle Disease

Newcastle disease is a highly contagious zoonotic bird disease affecting many domestic and wild avian species. Its effects are most notable in domestic poultry due to their high susceptibility and the potential for severe impacts of an epidemic on the poultry industries. It is endemic to many countries.

The causal agent, Newcastle disease virus (NDV), is a negative-sense single-stranded RNA virus. Transmission occurs by exposure to faecal and other excretions from infected birds, and through contact with contaminated feed, water, equipment and clothing.

Click here to read the Wikipedia entry

PRRS: Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome

Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV) is a virus that causes a disease of pigs, called Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS). This economically important pandemic disease causes reproductive failure in breeding stock and respiratory tract illness in young pigs. Initially referred to as "mystery swine disease," it was first reported in 1987 in North America and Central Europe.

Click here to read complete Wikipedia entry
See also The PigSite Quick Disease Guide
Photo gallery of symptoms


Rabies is a zoonotic viral disease which infects domestic and wild animals. It is transmitted to other animals and humans through close contact with saliva from infected animals (i.e. bites, scratches, licks on broken skin and mucous membranes). Once symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is fatal to both animals and humans.

The first symptoms of rabies are usually non-specific and suggest involvement of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and/or central nervous systems. In the acute stage, signs of hyperactivity (furious rabies) or paralysis (dumb rabies) predominate. In both furious and dumb rabies, paralysis eventually progresses to complete paralysis followed by coma and death in all cases, usually due to respiratory failure. Without intensive care, death occurs during the first seven days of illness.

Click here to read the World Health Organisation's fact sheet on Rabies.
Download National Department of Agriculture's infopak on the disease
Downlaod National Department of Agricuture's infopak "Rabies and the law".

Sheep scab

Sheep-scab is caused by the sheep-scab mite. The female mite lays between 40 and 90 eggs in her lifetime of about 30 days. A larva hatches from the egg, grows, and moults into a nymph, which develops into the adult mite. Under favourable conditions the life cycle from the new-laid egg to a mature, egg-producing female can be as short as nine days. The result is that an infested sheep can show severe lesions within four to six weeks.

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