Redwater (Babesiosis)

Redwater (Babesiosis)

Redwater (Babesiosis)
Redwater is a tick-borne disease listed with the World Organisation for Animal Health
It is often transferred between animals when farmers vaccinate multiple animals with the same needle.
However, calves must not be vaccinated before two months of age, because passive immunity  transferred from the cow may negatively influence the vaccine. Infection of the unborn calf can occur, resulting in abortion or death of the calf shortly after birth.
Cattle infected with redwater will have red or brown urine (blood in the urine) and a high temperature of between 41°C and 42°C. (The norm is 37°C to 38°C.) The mucosa of the eye is pale. Infected animals will not eat, are listless, and their skin may have an unsmooth appearance.
Muscle tremors occur and animals react strongly to handling and noise.

Conditions are often more severe than other strains.

High fever,  Parasitaemia (percentage of infected erythrocytes) – maximum parasitaemia is often less than one per cent.
Neurologic signs such as incoordination, teeth grinding and mania. Some cattle may be found on the ground with the involuntary movements of the legs. When the nervous symptoms of cerebral babesiosis develop, the outcome is almost always fatal.
  • Dark coloured urine
  • Anorexia
  • B. bigemina
  • Fever
  • Anorexia
  • Animals likely to separate from herd, be weak, depressed and reluctant to move
  • Haemoglobinuria and anaemiaDark coloured urine
  • Central nervous system (CNS) signs are uncommon


BB is predominantly observed in adult cattle. Infected animals develop a life-long immunity against re-infection with the same species and some cross-protection is evident in B. bigemina-immune animals against subsequent B. bovis infections.
B. bovis
The survivors may be weak and in reduced condition, although they usually recover fully. Subacute infections, with less apparent clinical signs, are also seen.
Mild cases may recover without treatment.
Sick animals can be treated with an antiparasitic drug. Treatment is most likely to be successful if the disease is diagnosed early; it may fail if the animal has been weakened by anemia. In some cases blood transfusions and other supportive therapy should be considered.
Effective control of tick fevers has been achieved by a combination of measures directed at both the disease and the tick vector. Tick control by acaracide dipping is widely used in endemic areas.

Dipping may be done as frequently as every 4-6 weeks in heavily infested areas. The occurrence of resistance of ticks, chemical residues in cattle and environmental concerns over the continued use of insecticides has led to use of integrated strategies for tick control.

Babesiosis vaccines are readily available and are highly effective. Anti-tick vaccines are also available in some countries and can be used as part of an integrated program for the control of ticks.
Babesiosis resembles other conditions that cause fever, and hemolytic anemia. The differential diagnosis includes anaplasmosis, trypanosomiasis, theileriosis, bacillary hemoglobinuria, leptospirosis, eperythrozoonosis, rapeseed poisoning and chronic copper poisoning. Rabies and other encephalitides may also be considerations in cattle with central nervous system sign


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