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Cows’ deaths prompt health investigation

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Health officials are investigating a salmonella outbreak after two cows died suddenly at a farm.

But both Government and farmer Harry Kromer Sr have stressed there is no danger to public milk supplies as the pregnant heifers had not started milking.

Five of ten recently imported pregnant cows belonging to Kromer Farm in Warwick were struck down by illness in the past week and two of the cattle have since died, according to the Ministry of Environment.

A Government spokesman said medical examinations of the dead animals revealed “abnormalities located throughout the gastrointestinal tract”.

“Samples taken from the animals were sent to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the Department of Health, who have now both confirmed the presence of high levels of salmonella in the samples,” the spokesman said.

“Salmonella is a normal inhabitant of the gut, however, stressors can upset the normal balance of gut flora leading to salmonella overgrowth. The lack of signs in other animals on the farm suggests that the organism is not in feed or water supply. Concurrent Clostridial infection is also suspected.”

Farm owner Mr Kromer Sr confirmed that the dead cattle were from a herd of ten heifers he brought in from the US last month.

He said that the herd was being kept at his Spittal Pond farm — which does not produce milk — and were not expected to move to his dairy farm at a separate location until the heifers produce calves next month.

“They’re just youngsters — they haven’t started producing milk yet so there is no danger about milk being contaminated,” Mr Kromer said.

According to the spokesman, no cows of local origin have been affected as the imported animals were kept separate from the resident herd at a different location.

“All affected animals are located at one farm only. As a result of a management decision taken about a year ago, this farm houses no milking cows, only dry, non-milking animals. This farm produces no milk, and thus it is important to stress that no milk has left the farm for the purpose of human consumption during this time.

“Thus, this outbreak of salmonella presents no threat to the public supply of milk. Therefore, there is no immediate concern for the health of the general public.

“Such separation of new arrivals is standard protocol, and for the very reason that this case illustrates. This case has also been an exercise in infection control, so to avoid infection of employees themselves.”

Veterinarian Dr Dane Coombs is handling the on-farm response and the surviving sick animals are reported to be responding well to fluid therapy and appropriate antibiotics.

As a precaution, farm workers are taking protective measures to avoid spreading infection beyond the boundaries of the farm.

Cleaning and disinfection of the facility will take place before any future milking, and further testing of the animals may occur in conjunction with the Department of Health.

Last month Government veterinarian Dr Jonathan Nisbett inspected the new arrivals and gave them a clean bill of health.

“It’s my job to identify the animals, check the numbers and check their condition after the sea crossing,” Dr Nisbett told The Bermuda Sun.

“The movement of animals is always stressful on the animal and some can develop shipping fever, but these cows look to be in good condition.”

(Photo by Glenn Tucker) Health concern: Harry Kromer’s farm located adjacent to Spittal Pond in Smith’s Parish. Health officials are investigating a salmonella outbreak after two cows died suddenly.
(Photo by Glenn Tucker) Health concern: Harry Kromer’s farm located adjacent to Spittal Pond in Smith’s Parish. Health officials are investigating a salmonella outbreak after two cows died suddenly.

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Published June 05, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 04, 2013 at 11:07 pm)

Cows’ deaths prompt health investigation

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