Hemorrhagic Septicemia

Agricultural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery December 18, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Hemorrhagic septicemia is a severe bacterial disease caused by certain strains of Pasteurella multicoda. It primarily affects cattle and water buffalo, but infrequently affects pigs, small ruminants, and other hoof-stock. It is rapidly fatal. The disease is spread through contact with infected animals, contaminated clothing, equipment, and through ingestion or inhalation of the bacteria. Animals under stress or with poor body condition are believed to be more susceptible to P. multicoda infection.

Where Is the Disease Found?

Africa, Asia, and some countries in southern Europe and the Middle East. The United States and Canada are considered free of Hemorrhagic septicemia.

Can the Disease Affect People?

There have been no reported cases of humans becoming infected with P. multicoda. However, humans are susceptible to other Pasteurella species, so appropriate precautions should be taken when handling infected animals.

What are Signs of the Disease?

  • Lethargy
  • Reluctant to move
  • Nasal discharge
  • Painful/difficult breathing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Congestion
  • Swollen neck and lower jaw
  • Fever
  • Sudden death

Can It Be Treated?

Death from Hemorrhagic septicemia often occurs in 8 to 24 hours, and treatment from antibiotics is only effective when administered early. Any cow suspected of having Hemorrhagic septicemia should be reported to the State Veterinarians or USDA Area Veterinarian in Charge immediately.

How Can the Disease Be Prevented?

Vaccination for Hemorrhagic septicemia is available. Maintaining herds in good physical condition and barring the entry of animals of unknown health status will help prevent the introduction of Hemorrhagic septicemia into a herd.

Where Can I Find Additional Information?

Hemorrhagic Septicemia, University of Georgia

Hemorrhagic Septicemia, Merck Veterinary Manual

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.