Livestock production: How to prevent and treat brucellosis (contagious abortion) in your herd

warts; prevent; condition

Question: What can I do to rid cattle that tested positive for brucellosis, of the disease? And how does one prevent contagious abortion from occurring?

  • There is no treatment.
  • Even in human beings the treatment is extremely expensive and takes a long time.
  • One can never say that one is truly healed.
  • The treatment is able to suppress the causative bacteria (germs), but the disease could recur at any time in the future.
  • The reason animals cannot be treated is that the Brucella abortus bacteria occur in cells from where treatment cannot remove them all.
  • Vaccines do not heal; they are simply preventative.


Be very careful about where you buy cattle. Insist on seeing the written laboratory immunity test results.

Recently, a farmer even changed the laboratory’s results and gave the buyer a copy. When the buyer got the original from the State Veterinarian, it included several animals that had tested positive.

Be wary of heifers that originate from a herd in which some animals tested positive for brucellosis. The incubation period for the disease (from infection to the time that a blood test will show a positive result) could be anywhere from 8 days to 2 years, or even longer.

Also read:
Livestock production: Testing your herd for brucellosis (contagious abortion)
Livestock production: What to do if your herd tests positive for brucellosis (contagious abortion)

  • This article was written by Dr. Matt Ekron and appears in Ask the vet: What cattle farmers should know (1), compiled by Dr. Faffa Malan.

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