February 15, 2016

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Tiffany Lee and we’re here at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Lee is a veterinarian and has a Master’s in Production Medicine and has been out in practice in Colorado. She’s a Kansas native. We’re always tickled to death to get her here on the show to talk about things that have to do with anything, any species really. And today we’re going to talk about lice in livestock, but more specifically cattle. (Tiffany) Yes.

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(Dan) Welcome to the show. (Tiffany) Thank you. I appreciate being here. Lice in cattle is a problem all across the industry, but it’s not a problem that we think about a lot. And so we want to talk a little bit about the causes and the actual organisms that cause the problems and then we’ll go into some treatment stuff. (Dan) Cool. Well I think that the first thing is that lice in cattle, we have different types of lice. But mainly two different categories right? (Tiffany) Yes. There’s two different categories, sucking lice and biting lice. There’s actually four kinds of sucking lice that prey on cattle. The Short Nose Cattle Louse, the Long Nose Cattle Louse, we’ve got the Little Blue Cattle Louse and then the Cattle Tail Louse, which obviously kind of resides more on that back side at the tail head. And then the Biting Louse, is just that; the Biting Tail Louse. (Dan) So there are four species of the ones that suck and then just one species in cattle that bites. (Tiffany) Yes. (Dan) And so kind of tell me what the difference between sucking lice and biting lice as far as why…I get why we call them that. But what’s really going on there? (Tiffany) Basically the sucking lice actually feed on blood of cattle. The biting lice feed on more like the actual epidermis, rather than the blood of the cattle. (Dan) So, the biting lice are going to eat on the skin. And the sucking lice are going to be like a tick, burrow in and actually go for the blood. (Tiffany) Exactly. (Dan) So, different types, how do I know which one’s which? (Tiffany) Basically the only way to know is take that organism, put it on a slide and look at it under a microscope. The Sucking Louse has these little things, teeth that you can really see under the microscope and the Biting Lice do not. (Dan) Cool. Alright, well now when we know that there are different types, but what about their life cycle? I mean, kind of give me a walk through, cause I think that’s in general something that would be important. (Tiffany) Sure. The lice life cycle is actually really interesting. It’s a parasite that actually lives its entire life on the host. And therefore it’s transmitted by direct contact. They only survive maybe two days off of the host. And one thing about lice is that they’re very species specific. So, if cattle have lice that’s the kind of lice that they’re going to get. It’s not the human lice. They can’t transmit it to us. We can’t transmit it to them and then the same with like dogs. I’ve had a lot of clients ask, “Well, my cattle have lice, is my dog going to get it?” They’re very host specific. There’s different kinds for different species, but only that…if your cattle have lice, your dogs aren’t going to get it. (Dan) Cool. And as far as…thinking about…it’s really important to understand that we don’t transfer them from species to species. Sucking Lice, Biting Lice, host specific. When we come back, we’re going to discuss more about when to expect problems with lice and how to treat it. You’re watching DocTalk. Thanks for joining us.

(Dan) Hey there folks. Dr. Dan from DocTalk. Thanks for joining us today. I’m here with Dr. Tiffany Lee and we’re veterinarians here at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University, where we focus our research on production medicine and animal welfare and pretty much all things cows. And Dr. Lee is a specialist in production medicine who has a Master’s degree, she’s finished up a PhD. (Tiffany) Yes I am. (Dan) She’s going to be a doctor, doctor and she has been in practice out in eastern Colorado quite a few years and so we’re talking about lice in cattle. And when we left, we talked about their life cycle and some of the different types of lice. But let’s talk about some predisposing factors. What are some of the things that viewers out there need to be thinking about when it comes to lice prevention? And what are some of the times of the year we need to be thinking about lice? (Tiffany) Sure. I think most cattle producers at least, have at least experienced an infestation of lice, not necessarily due to neglect or poor management but those things can contribute to lice infestations. The really bad ones are where we see neglect, poor nutrition, poor grooming. So, management is always going to be a part of any kind of problem that we have cattle and we can really help to manage having lice by keeping our pens clean, not overcrowding and things like that. Now, most producers again, have seen lice, and they’ll probably tell you that they usually see it in the wintertime, which is true. The lice actually don’t survive very well in warm weather. I think down in Florida they don’t even actually teach people about lice. And they’re… the lice spread a lot better in cold weather because these cattle, they bunch up they’re cold, they’ll bunch and that lice spreads from direct contact. (Dan) And we have the longer hair coats. (Tiffany) Yep. (Dan) Whenever we’ve had trouble with lice in feedyards, it’s almost always been a wintertime issue and as soon as that sun comes out in the spring, and we start to get those longer days, our lice problems go away. But this is really a timely topic. This is something that during the January, February time frames is when we start to see the clinical signs of lice infestation in yards or in cow herds or things of that nature. (Tiffany) And those clinical signs that you want to look for are basically-we can see the lice on the cattle. That is a big sign. You can observe the cattle scratching. They’re going to get really itchy, because that skin is dry, it’s damaged. We can also see with really bad infestations anemia from those Sucking Lice because if it’s a really bad infestation they’re going to eat a lot of blood. And then of course, the lice infestations do cause poor production, decreased immunity, stress, and again the anemia. (Dan) Yea, the big thing that you’re going to want to watch for is hair loss and itching. When we have in the feedyard, the cattle are all around the cables, they’re rubbing their sides, they’re trying to get away from it and they start to have patchy hair loss of that winter hair coat. So, it’s important during the winter that we make sure we prevent lice infestation because then those cattle get chilled and decreased in performance. Don’t confuse it with the belly hair being gone, if the cattle would freeze to the ground during the night and go to stand up and pull hair away. But looking for lice hair coat issues and scratching your fences down. (Tiffany) And that you…a lot of times with the lice you’re going to see that hair loss up over the shoulders and the back, rather than on that belly like Dr. Dan said where they can actually freeze and pull the hair off. (Dan) Absolutely. More after these messages.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Tiffany Lee. And we are faculty here at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine where we work with beef production medicine and we work out in the field on many different cases of animal welfare, animal health, medicine, and surgery cases on a day-to-day basis. And we’re talking about lice today, and as we left we were talking about wintertime being the prevalent time for lice issues, whether it’s feedlots, cow herds, things to that nature. So, in a feedlot situation we’re starting to look at treatment or prevention of lice on incoming cattle or re-implant cattle starting in November in the upper Midwest. And then we will continue to treat cattle as they come in for those types of problems until we start to have spring, until we start to see the thaw, we start to see increased day length. That’s when we can discontinue. No need to treat for lice or prevention of lice in the summer, but what are some of the things we are going to use? (Tiffany) Basically you’ve got kind of two areas where you can go as far as treatments. You can go like the isometric treatments, more of the anti-parasitacites. Or you can go kind of an insecticide route. With the Ivermectins, Doramectin, things like that you have injectable or you have topical or pour-on. One thing that we do need to remember when you’re picking between these products, is the pour-on or the injectable is only going to get your Sucking Lice. It’s not going to get your Biting Lice. Because those Biting Lice don’t actually get that drug in them. So that’s one thing that you really need to make sure that you work with your veterinarian on determining which one, which product is best to use. (Dan) And when you use the pour-on, you’ll get both. (Tiffany) Yes you will. (Dan) Biting and the Sucking. And that’s one of the things that we used to talk with our producers specifically in feedyards, is that if you’re going to use the injectable year around, then you have to bring in one of the insecticides that we’re fixing to talk about. But if you want to just use one product that when we get to the Fall we’ll switch from an injectable to a pour-on so that we’re also having proper lice coverage and we’ll do that til the Spring and then we can switch back to the injectable. (Tiffany) Exactly. And like Dr. Dan said, if you don’t want to switch from your injectable, you can use an insecticide such as a Pyrethrin to go ahead and get those Biting Lice as well. (Dan) Yep. Saber, CyLence, there are generic Pyrethrins. The big thing that Dr. Tiffany and I always agree on is that always work with your local veterinarian. They know the products that work in your area, they know if you have Biting Lice or Sucking Lice, they’ve been in many herds. And your veterinarian can’t carry it from herd to herd, cause they’re specific. (Tiffany) It’s true. (Dan) But he starts itching… (Tiffany) Do something about it. Now one thing that I do want to mention, if you do have an infection of lice and you treat it, you want to make sure that you don’t mix those cattle with uninfected cattle because those lice can actually survive for up to about a week. So just make sure that you’re not mixing infected cattle and non-infected cattle. (Dan) Cause they’ll jump off this one and on to that one and we have a problem over there. (Tiffany) Yea. (Dan) So anyway, great information. Remember injectable does not get the Biting Lice, pour-on gets both. If you’re going to use injectable, use an insecticide like Saber or CyLence. More on lice after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson, here with Dr. Tiffany Lee. We’re at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine where we serve on the faculty and teach beef production medicine and also provide service to producers and veterinarians across the United States. And we have had a good discussion about lice. And lice is never really on the top of your brain until you have it. And when you see lice in a feedlot or a cow herd it’s going to be pretty obvious. You won’t notice the first two or three cows that start scratching, but when there’s ten of ’em lined up along the fence and I mean they will rub your fences down. (Tiffany) Yea they will pull ’em down. (Dan) When they have the lice issues. It’s something that you need to be concerned of in different parts of the country and make sure that we’re using our preventatives. Two types of lice, right? (Tiffany) Yep. Sucking Lice and Biting Lice. And again, the Sucking Lice actually feed on the blood of cattle and those are the ones that you worry about with anemia and things like that. (Dan) And we’re going to make sure that you work with your veterinarian on this, but we aren’t going to use…we’re not going to be able to get those Biting Lice with the injectable. (Tiffany) Yes. (Dan) We have a lot of people that will talk about do I use an injectable? Do I use a pour-on, do I use an insecticide? And again, it doesn’t matter. Work with your veterinarian, they’ll know what’s going on with your area. But some of the bigger things in the wintertime are are we housing these animals indoors, do we have proper pen management? And I think that’s something that in the wintertime, mud accumulation it’s just one more to take off the stress or the stress level of those cattle is make sure we treat ’em for lice. (Tiffany) Yea and I think as far as pen conditions go, we have to think about these pens, you get muddy areas and actually our pen space decreases. Depending on pen size it can cause overcrowding and things like that. So you need to think about not just the whole pen area but the living space in those pens. (Dan) And the other thing is make sure we have bunk pads clean. If you do have cattle one of the things that we’ve done for emergency treatment of lice with feeder cattle is we’ve actually taken the insecticide, instead of running the cattle back through the processing barn, is actually you can put the back pack Saber type, or CyLence type packs on your back, feed the cattle and then go right behind them and treat them for lice while they’re up at the bunk. Some of those types of issues that we’ve done. If you do have a lice issue you don’t need to bring them back into the processing barn just for lice, a lot of time we’ll just implement that treatment for lice at the time of re-implant, which will be about 100 days prior to slaughter. So in that January, February time frame, instead of just treating them for lice, go ahead and bring them in for re-implant and then you’re knocking out two birds with one stone. (Tiffany) Exactly, decreased stress too, right? (Dan) Yep, decreased stress. Well folks, thanks a million for watching DocTalk. We always appreciate you coming and watching the show and spending some time with us. Remember always work with your local veterinarian and if you want to know more about what we do here on DocTalk, you can find us on the web at www.doctalktv.com. Send your emails and your questions. You’ve been watching DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’ll see you down the road.

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