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First case of Redwater diagnosed by RVL in 2019

A case of babesiosis or “redwater” has been diagnosed in the Regional Veterinary Laboratory operated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in Athlone. The disease was detected on a necropsy (detailed post-mortem examination) of a two year old heifer from County Offaly. The farmer had not noticed any signs of illness in the heifer before she was found dead.

Redwater in cattle is caused by a single celled parasite called Babesia divergens. It is spread by ticks, and so is associated with areas of rough grazing, including ground covered with bracken and heather as well as overgrown pasture.

Typically animals which are born and reared in areas where the disease is known to occur do not develop clinical signs of redwater. Disease signs are more commonly seen in animals which are introduced from areas where the disease does not occur to areas where it does occur. Additionally young animals appear to be more resistant to the disease than older animals.  

Clinical signs of the disease include rapid heart rate, high body temperature, red tinge in the urine and “pipe-stem” diarrhoea in the early stages. As the disease progresses, high body temperature is typically replaced by low temperature; diarrhoea is usually replaced by constipation; mucous membranes including gums and conjunctivae tend to become pale or even jaundiced; and the urine typically takes on a dark red appearance.

Farmers are encouraged to be vigilant for this disease, which can cause substantial losses, in the weeks ahead. They are also encouraged to discuss prevention, treatment and control of the disease with their private veterinary practitioner.

Added 10.04.2019 Added 10.04.2019


Species: Bovine
3:37 PM on Wed, 10 April