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Animal Health Fact Sheets

Below are short descriptions of each disease. More information and a printer friendly version may be obtained by clicking on the disease name. More animal health infornation is available at...

  • Anaplasmosis is an infectious disease of cattle, sheep and goats. The disease can be acute or chronic in nature. Most commonly, animals with anaplasmosis show signs such as fever, anemia (pale gums), and jaundice (yellowing of the linings of the mouth and nose and yellowing of the whites of the eyes). Infection is more common in beef cattle than it is in dairy cattle. Anaplasmosis does not infect humans.
  • Anthrax Anthrax, a disease of mammals and humans, is caused by a spore-forming bacterium called Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax has an almost worldwide distribution and is a zoonotic disease, meaning it may spread from animals to humans. All mammals appear to be susceptible to anthrax to some degree, but ruminants, such as cattle, sheep, and goats, are the most susceptible and commonly affected, followed by horses, and then swine. In ruminants, the disease is generally characterized by sudden death. Ruminants contract the disease primarily through ingestion of soilborne anthrax spores. Anthrax does not spread by contact between animals.
  • Anthrax has received greater attention recently because of its potential as an agent in biological weapons, both on the battlefield and in a terrorist strike.
  • Avian Influenza A worldwide viral infection of several species of poultry. An influenza virus has the ability to mutate, or change its genetic character, so that it can infect a host animal in one of several ways.
  • Avian mycoplasmas The species of Mycoplasma that are most pathogenic to poultry are the ones covered by the testing program in the NPIP: Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG), Mycoplasma synoviae (MS), or Mycoplasma meleagridis (MM). MG is commonly called chronic respiratory disease in chickens and infectious sinusitis in turkeys. MS can become systemic and cause acute synovitis of chickens and turkeys. MM's primary lesion is airsacculitis in baby turkeys.
  • Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), widely referred to as "mad cow disease," is a chronic degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of cattle.
  • Bovine Tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease of both animals and humans. Bovine TB, caused by M. bovis, can be transmitted from livestock to humans and other animals. No other TB organism has as great a host range as bovine TB, which can infect all warmblooded vertebrates. M. avium can affect all species of birds, as well as hogs and cattle. M. tuberculosis primarily affects humans but can also be transmitted to hogs, cattle, and dogs.
  • Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) of deer and elk that has occurred only in limited areas in the Western United States. First recognized as a clinical syndrome in 1967, it is typified by chronic weight loss leading to death. There is no known relationship between CWD and any other spongiform encephalopathy of animals or people.
  • Classical Swine Fever (CSF) Classical swine fever (CSF), also known as hog cholera, is a highly contagious viral disease of swine. CSF was eradicated from the United States in 1978 after a 16 year effort by the industry and State and Federal governments.
  • Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) Contagious equine metritis (CEM) is a transmissible, exotic, venereal disease of horses caused by the bacterium Taylorella equigenitalis. Thoroughbred horses appear to be more severely affected by the disease than other breeds. Because animals may be asymptomatic, the disease is difficult to detect and control. There is no evidence that CEM affects people.
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare disease that is spread to horses and humans by infected mosquitoes. It is among the most serious of a group of mosquito-borne virus diseases that can affect the central nervous system and cause severe complications and even death. Other similar diseases are western equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and LaCrosse encephalitis.
  • Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) Equine infectious anemia (EIA) is an infectious viral disease of equidae characterized by a variety of symptoms related to anemia that accompany either an acute, subacute or chronic illness that may terminate in death. The disease may be subclinical in some individuals.
  • Exotic Newcastle Disease Exotic Newcastle disease is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting all species of birds. Previously known as velogenic viscerotropic Newcastle disease (VVND), exotic Newcastle is probably one of the most infectious diseases of poultry in the world. Exotic Newcastle is so virulent that many birds die without showing any clinical signs. A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks. Exotic Newcastle can infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry.
  • Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a severe, highly communicable viral disease of cattle and swine. It also affects sheep, goats, deer, and other cloven-hooved ruminants. This country has been free of FMD since 1929, when the last of nine U.S. outbreaks was eradicated.The disease is characterized by fever and blisterlike lesions on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the teats, and between the hooves. Many affected animals recover, but the disease leaves them debilitated. It causes severe losses in the production of meat and milk.
  • Fowl typhoid An egg-transmitted disease of poultry, caused by Salmonella gallinarum, that may result in significant mortality in both baby poultry and adult birds.
  • Johne's Disease Johne’s, pronounced "Yo-nee’s", is a gastrointestinal disease affecting cattle, sheep, goats and other ruminants, (e.g. deer, elk, antelope). Johne’s disease is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, which is a distant relative to the organism that causes Tuberculosis in humans and animals. It causes a chronic wasting syndrome that most commonly is accompanied by chronic diarrhea, and in later stages, a "bottle-jaw" appearance.
  • Pullorum An egg-transmitted disease of poultry, caused by Salmonella pullorum, that kills a high proportion (60-80 percent) of baby poultry.
  • Rabies Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of mammals. In the last stages of the disease, the virus moves from the brain into the salivary glands and saliva. From there the virus can be transmitted through a bite or by contact with mucous membranes (nose, mouth, and eyes). The incubation period for the disease is variable: between 2 weeks and 6 months. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms occur. Changes in behavior are common in rabid animals: nocturnal animals are seen during the day, animals are not afraid from humans, become aggressive, attack other animals or people without provocation, may have paralysis of the limbs or throat, or just lay down. Any mammal can get rabies, including humans, dogs, cats, cows, and horses.
  • Salmonella enteritidis An egg-transmitted disease of poultry, caused by the organism of the same name, that may also have human health implications through consumption of contaminated table eggs.
  • Scrapie Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats. Scrapie has had a significant impact on the sheep industry and has caused financial losses to sheep producers across the country.
  • Screwworm Screwworm is the common name of a pest native to the tropical areas of North, South, and Central America that causes extensive damage to domestic livestock and other warm-blooded animals. The larvae of these pests feed on the raw flesh of the host animal. Rare human cases have been reported. Suspect cases should be reported to the State Veterinarian or Federal animal health authorities.
  • Swine Toxoplasmosis Toxoplasmosis was first reported in pigs in 1951 on a farm in Ohio. The etiologic agent is a protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. It is microscopic, measuring 1/200th of a millimeter in length. Infection by this parasite is widespread in pigs worldwide. The primary concern regarding Toxoplasma in pigs is that edible tissues become infected with T. gondii and the ingestion of undercooked pork can become a source of infection for humans. Toxoplasma gondii causes infection in most warm-blooded animals including livestock and humans. Approximately 40% of adult humans in the U.S. are infected with the parasite and T. gondii infections are more prevalent in Continental Europe. The three major sources of infection with T. gondii are: 1) ingestion of food and water contaminated with Toxoplasma oocysts from cat feces, 2) ingestion of infected meat containing tissue cysts, and 3) congenitally from an infected mother to her fetus.
  • West Nile Virus (WNV) West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne virus and is closely related to St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) virus. SLE virus is most prevalent in the southeastern and midwestern United States. However, WNV is typically found in Africa, Europe, and Asia (primarily in countries bordering the Mediterranean Basin). Infection with this virus does not always result in clinical disease. Studies have shown that normally only a small percentage of humans infected with the virus will show symptoms of disease. The general symptoms of West Nile fever, resulting from infection with WNV, range from fever, rash, and headache to meningitis, encephalitis, coma, and death.


NCDA&CS Veterinary Division, Dr. Michael Martin - State Veterinarian
Mailing Address: 1030 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1030
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3250 Fax: (919) 733-2277

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