Tag Archives: Kansas State University

MANHATTAN, Kan. — The director of a Kansas State University veterinary laboratory that responds to animal health issues across the state says that while coronavirus is a disease familiar to livestock producers, it is not the same strain of the virus that is grabbing headlines across the globe.

The novel strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, is transmitted through humans. There is no evidence that livestock can transmit the disease to humans, and the food products from livestock cannot carry COVID-19 to humans.

“Producers are well aware that there is a (different strain of) coronavirus that is associated with neo-natal diarrhea, and there’s another one that we think is now associated with cattle respiratory disease,” said Gregg Hanzlicek, director of the production animal field investigations unit in K-State’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

“But I want to make it perfectly clear that our cattle coronavirus has no relationship to the coronavirus that is currently circulating in humans. These coronaviruses are very species-specific. There is absolutely no indication that livestock can be carriers of COVID-19 and be a source of infection to humans, either through carrying it on their skin or their hair or anywhere else.”

He added: “Milk, eggs, beef pork…whatever proteins that are produced by livestock are absolutely safe to eat. People do not have to worry about those products carrying COVID-19 to the population.”

Listen to Gregg Hanzlicek on Agriculture Today

Hanzlicek said that producers are safe to go about the business of taking care of animals: “They need to minimize the amount of exposure they have to humans. At this point, they should keep on doing what they do every day with their livestock.”

Livestock producers who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should see their medical professional. If their livestock begin showing signs of illness, as well, Hanzlicek said they should contact their local veterinarian.

“The local vet will call the state or federal veterinarian and then a decision will be made whether to test those animals for COVID-19,” Hanzlicek said. “We don’t want to just start blanket sampling all animals. Again, with this virus, we do not believe that livestock are associated with spreading the disease.”

Hanzlicek said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has relaxed its rules just a bit to allow producers to consult with a veterinarian through ‘tele-medicine’ – that is, communicating sickness to a veterinarian by phone or online technology.

“The veterinarian is not necessarily required to make a trip to actually look at the animals,” thus maintaining ‘social distance’ guidelines for humans, Hanzlicek said.

The K-State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which tests samples for suspected livestock disease, remains open during the university’s limited operations status. Hanzlicek said the lab is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

Hanzlicek and others also are still available to travel throughout Kansas to help local veterinarians diagnose suspected livestock disease. The staff can be contacted by calling 785-532-5650, or through its web site, www.ksvdl.org.

Hanzlicek said the FDA also maintains a useful site with information for livestock owners regarding COVID-19.

Researchers at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, in collaboration with Iowa State University, have developed a new vaccine delivery platform to produce long-lasting protection against anaplasmosis infections.

Bovine anaplasmosis, caused by the blood-borne parasite Anaplasma marginale, is the most prevalent tick-transmitted disease of cattle worldwide and causes significant disease loss to beef producers in the United States.

“Currently, a common strategy to control anaplasmosis is to provide mineral or feed containing the antibiotic chlortetracycline to cattle on pasture,” said Andrew Curtis, doctoral research assistant in the laboratory of Hans Coetzee, professor and head of the anatomy and physiology department.

“This practice has raised concerns about the potential emergence of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria that may pose a risk to human and animal health,” Curtis said. “Although there is an experimental vaccine available to control anaplasmosis, it requires multiple injections and it has not been evaluated in published research studies.”

The objective of the College of Veterinary Medicine study was to develop a single-dose implant vaccine platform that provides long-term immunity against anaplasmosis infections by releasing vaccine contents over an extended period.

This new single-dose vaccine, which is administered in the back of the ear, has been shown to protect against clinical anaplasmosis for up to two years and could potentially help make anaplasmosis control more accessible and convenient to livestock producers, Curtis said.

“The concept of providing cattle with a single vaccine implant that could potentially provide lifelong protection against an economically devastating disease, such as bovine anaplasmosis, could revolutionize livestock production,” Coetzee said.

Iowa State University currently holds a patent for the implant platform and the K-State/Manhattan Innovation Center is exploring a partnership with Iowa State to further develop this technology.

The first step to a commercially available product would include finding a commercial partner to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition to Curtis and Coetzee, K-State researchers involved with the project include Miriam Martin, Brandt Skinner, Shawnee Montgomery, Tippawan Anantatat, Kathryn E. Reif, Majid Jaberi-Douraki, Emily J. Reppert and Michael Kleinhenz. Researchers from Iowa State include Sean Kelly, Balaji Narasimhan and Douglas Jones.

This project was supported in part by the Iowa Livestock Health Advisory Council and the faculty start-up funding provided by Kansas State University.

The study, “Rapid Communication: Development of a subcutaneous ear implant to deliver an anaplasmosis vaccine to dairy steers,” was published in the Journal of Animal Science.