India as a developing nation still relies on its ancient roots till date. Agriculture, dairy farmingcontinues to stay at the epicentre of this nations’ growth and progress sector. People here have a great connect with India’s rich history and culture, where cows & cattle are given eminent position in the society as they support not only the farmers’ family but also many households through milk, milk products [nutrition] and contributes to farming as well in the form of farming aid. Dairy industry being one of the leading industries contributes greatly to the Indian economy. As of 2020, despite the pandemic, dairy sector has continued to boom and increase our nations’ GDP [Gross Domestic Product] with around 4.2% of total GDP percentage being contributed by our Dairy Sector. Also, it is interesting to note that this sector particularly continues to grow annually at the rate of 4.9% which is a really good indicator of economic growth and boom. According to latest research conducted the total value of dairy sector of India, the dairy market in India reached a value of 11,357 billion in the year 2020. That being said, there is a symbiotic environment, where the milch animals provide farmers with milk, and the farmer provides them with good facilities such as food, shelter etc. supporting each other’s livelihoods. One of the grave obstacles which may stand firmly on the way of dairy farmers and cattle is that of abortion. Abortion being both physically and mentally difficult process for the cattle it does significantly affect the cattle-farmer as well who is dependent upon milk and its products for their livelihoods. Today, let us understand more about abortion, the cause-effect and the outcomes, treatment, preventive measures for the same.
ABORTION: CAUSES & REASONS
Abortion refers to termination of pregnancy after organogenesis is complete but before the expelled foetus can survive. It is the loss of embryo during pregnancy which is not a favourable event and it does have a wide variety of reasons which culminates into this unfortunate event. Let us try to understand the reasons or causes of abortion –
Broadly, abortion -causes can be divided into two broad categories –
A] INFECTIOUS CAUSES:
Infection refersto different bacterial and viral pathogens which infects the bodytriggering disease process. There are wide range of bacterial and viral agents which propagate and affect the reproductive tract leading to reproductive-tract relateddiseases and conditions such as reproductive failure, localised infectionsand abortion in pregnant cattle.
1. Blue Tongue Virus
Caused by Orbivirus having 24 serotypes, this virus is transmitted via biting midges such as Cullicoides spp. Abortion, mummification of the foetus, birth of live foetus with severe CNS [brain] malformations and still-birth are a common feature of this.
2. BVD Virus [Bovine Viral Diarrhoea]
BVDV or bovine viral diarrhoea virus is one of the most common agents causing abortion in cattle. It is transmitted via a number of ways –
- It can be transmitted via placenta [from mother to foetus]
- It can be transmitted via fomites [infected objects/ transport objects etc.]
- It can be transmitted via direct contact with infected animal
Of these, lets focus on the placental transmission of BVDV. As this virus has the ability to be transmitted via placenta to the growing foetus, it can cause foetal death and abortion, malformed foetus, still-birth or some cows may even deliver the foetus despite being infected. When infected during organogenesis process [when organs are being developed in foetus] it can cause serious developmental anomalies such as cerebellar hypoplasia, hydrocephalus, spinal cord hypoplasia, etc.).
This bacterium – brucellaabortus is quite notorious bacteria and abortion being the prime feature. This Is a zoonotic disease as well! The organisms enter via the mucous membranes and tend to invade the uterus, triggering inflammation of placenta [termed as placentitis] in pregnant animals which may be acute or chronic in nature. Abortion occurs at around 2 weeks to 5 months after initial infection.
This bacterium causes venereal diseases and tends to cause abortion, still-birth between 4-8 months of pregnancy being are transmitted by ingestion and subsequently spreads via blood to the placenta. This too is one of the diseases having zoonotic nature.
5. Other infectious agents causing abortion are:
- IBR [infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis
- Fungi such as Trichomonas, Neospora, etc.
B] NON-INFECTIOUS CAUSES:
Apart from infectious agents such as those mentioned above, there are certain reasons which can directly or indirectly cause abortion. One of the causes is Genetic variation. Some cattle carrying lethal genes can cause early embryonic death or abortion. This is generally very rare phenomenon. Nutritional deficiency can also cause variety of disorders and reproductive tract dysfunction including reproduction failure. Vitamin A, Vitamin E, selenium, and iron have a crucial role to play in reproductive health and have been implicated in cases of abortion.
Environment also plays a key role in optimal overall health of cattle. This includes atmospheric temperature as well. Excessive heat or cold can trigger stress and cause wide range of physical issues, for example, heat stress or high atmospheric temperature can cause foetal death, also, high maternal body temperature also contributes to this. Trauma or accidents too may cause abortion despite the embryo being well protected by foetal membranes.
Ingestion of toxic plants or pesticides or herbicide laden plants can essentially trigger series of ill-effects including severe health complications both for cow as well as her foetus. For example, c mycotoxins having estrogenic activity may lead to abortion.
Diagnostics is usually evident by history of abortion or failure to observe pregnancy progression despite being artificially inseminated or mated. There are tests such as per-rectal examination, ultra-sonography technique which can be adopted by the veterinarian depending upon the case and need of the hour. Checking blood progesterone levels too can aid in establishing the diagnosis. Usually, diagnosis is based on the history. The farmer may observe abortion which may give a clear idea about the ongoing issue. In case, abortion has not been observed, failure of conception or failure to observe pregnancy progression continues to be the top indicator of some ongoing reproductive tract related disorders which needs to be promptly checked.
CARE & TREATMENT
Yes, this event is rather unfortunate and difficult for both farmer as ell as the cattle, it is very important to shift our focus on two things – One: to offer utmost care and Two: to provide utmost medical assistance.
1. Offering utmost care
If your cattle have been selected to breed and conceive, proper care must be taken right from the time of conception. In fact, proper nutrition, care etc should be prioritised few weeks to a month prior to mating as it helps the body to prepare well and the pregnancy is smoother than anticipated. For cattle who are pregnant, care must be taken that they are not coming in contact with infectious materials or infection-carrying cattle. Also, they must be well-fed to prevent them from grazing out and eating random plants which may or may not be toxic. For recently aborted cattle, proper veterinary help must be sought out to help plan the next steps: i.e.,Treating the cause of abortion and helping the cattle out to prepare them for future conception.
2. Providing Medical Assistance
Medical assistance does not always refer to medicines or drugs but it also involves other parameters such as nutrition, supplements, etc. medicine should have a 360-degree approach and it definitely consists of lifestyle alterations as well as certain changes in feeding habits.
Dietary fix and proper nutrition play an important role in modulating immunity and health, thus, few small changes in diets can help. Better fed cows have higher fertility rates and improved conception rate and in turn have a smooth pregnancy period with minimal risk of abortions and better milk yield as compared to cows kept on poor quality fodder/ration. Good amount of carbohydrates, fats, essential fatty acids, essential minerals like iron etc. play a pivotal role in the reproductive health of cattle.
Also, novel homeopathic approach for this case is ABORTIGO which is an advanced Homoeopathic Veterinary Medicinal formulation for calving animals to prevent and treat abortions of any underlying cause to save the life of mother and child. It is used to prevent abortions of any underlying cause without any side effects or contraindications and helps in retaining uterine tonicity by stimulating hormones and nourishing the uterine muscles through increased metabolism of calcium and other minerals. It also acts as preventive medicine for habitual abortions by increasing immunity against all major infectious diseases which threaten the life of the fetus and also the mother.