Hairy foot warts

Hairy Foot Warts
Hilary M. Sullivan
Cooperative Extension Service • College of Agriculture and Home Economics
This publication is scheduled to be updated and reissued 3/10.
Hairy foot warts were first reported in the United with little direct labor input. Since at any given States more than 23 years ago and have since time approximately 14% of cattle with hairy foot spread rapidly, becoming a major management wart lesions will not be lame, treatment of all cattle concern for dairy producers both in the U.S. and in may reduce future instances of the problem. Al- other parts of the world (Shearer, 1998). Between though less labor intensive than topical applica- 1991 and 1994, the frequency of infection on Cali- tions, footbaths must be properly managed. Non- fornia dairies increased from 31% to 89% (Read antibiotic footbaths usually contain disinfectants of and Walker, 1991). In addition to being extremely one kind or another, but large amounts of organic contagious, hairy foot warts are also a very expen- matter (manure and dirt) inactivate disinfectants sive problem. It is estimated that hairy foot warts and antibiotics. Therefore, the use of footbaths re- cause 20% of all dairy lameness cases, with each in- quires frequent changing of the bath water and/or a cidence of lameness costing $90 to $130 (Shearer, pre-rinse; otherwise, footbaths can become an in- 2000). In addition to milk loss, which ranges from oculating bath more likely to spread foot warts then 20 to 50% in affected cows, hairy foot warts often cure them. The biggest drawbacks to footbaths are lead to reproductive problems and premature cow cost and the lack of reliable efficacy data for some culling. A study of cows sent to U.S. slaughter- treatment methods. The following are some com- houses revealed that nearly 30% of cows tested had monly employed footbaths with their advantages hairy foot warts on the left hind hoof (Brown, Contrary to what the name implies hairy foot • Antibiotics–These are a popular and effective
warts are not warts at all. Viruses cause warts; bac- treatment for hairy foot warts. Several research teria cause hairy foot warts. The exact causative trials have shown the efficacy of tetracycline agent is not known, but evidence suggests that one and oxytetracycline footbaths. Lincomycin or more species of spirochete of the genus Tre- may also be used, but care must be taken be- ponema is responsible. Treponema bacteria can be cause it is toxic to rumen microbes and should anaerobic or microaerophilic (require O at less not be ingested by cattle. Hairy foot warts than atmospheric levels) and can be parasitic to hu- may become resistant to treatment with anti- mans and to animals causing a range of diseases.
biotics over time (Shearer and Hernandez, Currently, the most effective treatment is the use of topical broad-spectrum antibiotics; however, • Copper sulfate (CuSO )–Have been widely
treatment of hairy foot warts with antibiotics is off- used for a number of years. Despite its use label so consult your veterinarian before use. In ad- throughout the industry, copper sulfate is not dition, topical application of antibiotics is labor- an effective treatment for hairy foot warts. In intensive and may not be practical in a large herd addition, this compound has recently begun situation. One alternative to topical antibiotics is medicated footbaths. Advantages to the use of build-up, especially on large dairies and in footbaths are that mass treatment can be achieved acidic soils. Despite the relatively low risk of To find more resources for your business, home, or family, visit the College of Agriculture and Home Economics on theWorld Wide Web at Cu toxicity in the Southwest’s alkaline soils, has a limited shelf life after dilution in water.
use of copper sulfate footbaths in the parlor in In addition, bleach can be damaging to tissues New Mexico is considered a violation of your and can emit harmful gases. In general, its use wastewater discharge permit. In fact, use of copper sulfate anywhere on the dairy is dis- • Iodine products–Teat dips and other iodine
products have been used by dairy farms to • Zinc sulfate (ZnSO )–Limited clinical data
control foot warts. However, any claims of ef- exists on its efficacy. A 1990 study reported fectiveness of these products are anecdotal.
that 3x footbaths were effective at controlling While iodine is readily available on the dairy the spread of hairy foot warts and treating and works well in teat dips, it may be less ef- mild lesions, but ineffective against more seri- fective as a footbath product. Iodine is easily ous lesions (Nutter and Moffit, 1990). Do not inactivated by organic matter and like bleach mix solutions containing Cu or Zn with anti- requires a long contact time and products biotics, because tetracylines can be inactivated without emollient can be irritating to the skin.
Peroxides–Peroxides disrupt the cellular
Formalin (39% formaldehyde)–Several stud-
mechanisms of anaerobic bacteria. However, ies have reported that 5% formalin treatment in high concentrations peroxides are very is effective in controlling hairy foot wart out- damaging to all cells. Products such as hydro- breaks. Formalin has a wide range of antibi- gen peroxides are not stable and quickly lose otic activity, it is non-corrosive, it is biode- their effectiveness when exposed to air or or- gradable, and use of formalin is not regulated ganic matter. However, stabilized peroxide by the Federal Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.
compounds are available, which have a longer- quently because formalin loses its activityquickly when exposed to air. Formalin will not Non-antibiotic footbaths act as disinfectant to penetrate organic matter so hooves must be kill the bacteria that causes hairy foot wart. When cleaned if they are muddy or manure packed.
using a disinfectant for any purpose, four factors In addition, application of formalin to the le- sion can be painful. Perhaps formalin’s biggestdrawback is toxicity, which can pose a health • The disinfectant must kill the bacteria you are hazard to employees as well as a risk of con- tamination of meat or milk. If formalin is to be • The bacteria must be exposed to the disinfec- used for the treatment and control of foot tant for a sufficient amount of time.
warts, workers should be aware of its hazards • The correct concentration must be used to get and take steps to protect themselves.
Acidified Sodium Chlorite (NaCl )–Is a
• The disinfectant must remain active in the broad spectrum antimicrobial that has recently situation where you will use it (i.e. changed been approved for use in disinfecting beef and frequently and free of contaminates).
poultry carcasses. It also is effective as a topicaldisinfectant for treating hairy foot warts when Because of the problems associated with footbaths applied 3x for 21 days (Britt Carson et al., and topical treatments, several researchers have in- 1999). Acidified Na Chlorite is easily inacti- vestigated the use of systemic antibiotics to treat vated by organic matter so footbaths must re- hairy foot warts; the results again have been some- main clean. It is very acidic (pH 2.3-3.2) and what mixed. Read and Walker reported that all cattle can be corrosive to stainless steel, so it may be injected with penicillin G twice a day for three days had healed lesions within 21 days; however, no data • Bleach (Sodium hypochlorite)–Bleach is
were presented on reoccurrence of these lesions. In cheap, broad spectrum and readily available.
addition, use of injectable antibiotics has meat and However, it is also easily deactivated by or- milk withdrawal issues. Vaccines have also been de- ganic matter, requires a long contact time and veloped against the bacteria that cause hairy foot Guide B-122 • Page 2
warts. Good data still do not exist on whether these philic; therefore, subsurface soils are a perfect vaccines are effective. The biggest problem with environment for them. By frequently exposing treatment of hairy foot warts is a high rate of reoc- these areas to sunlight and air, you can reduce currence. Therefore, often one must talk about control of outbreaks rather than cure.
Larger dairies have higher incidences of hairy Options for controlling hairy foot warts on the foot warts than smaller dairy farms. This can be at- dairy include: management strategies, vaccination, tributed to cattle coming into the dairy from a large systemic or topical antibiotics, and mass treatment number of sources. Incoming cattle are more likely strategies such as footbaths. Talk to your veterinar- to introduce, as well as contract, new diseases.
ian and university Extension personnel about treat- New, young, and highly stressed animals, such as ment and prevention options that might be right incoming freshening heifers, are more susceptible to hairy foot warts. Older and previously exposedcattle may develop a certain degree of immunity. Asouthern California case study reported that it was LITERATURE CITED
four times more likely for a dairy to have a high in- Britt, J. S., M. C. Carson, J. D. von Bredow, R. J.
cidence of hairy foot warts if replacement heifers Condon 1999. “Antibiotic residues in milk samples were brought into the dairy. Therefore, it may pay obtained from cows after treatment for papillomatous to quarantine incoming animals for several weeks, digital dermatitis.” Journal of the American Veterinary treating them topically for any lesions. However, the same study reported that dairies were 20x more Brown C.C., P. D. Kilgo, and K. L. Jacobsen. 2000.
“Prevalence of papillomatous digital dermatitis likely to have large numbers of cases if corrals were among culled adult cattle in the southeastern U.S.” muddy (Brown, Kilgo, et al., 2000). While treat- American Journal of Veterinary Research. 61:928 ment of hairy foot warts may be a management Hernandez, J., and J. K. Shearer 2000. “Efficacy of ox- challenge, prevention is always the best cure. Be- ytetracycline for treatment of papillomatous digital cause hairy foot warts are bacterial, good manage- dermatitis lesions on various anatomic locations in ment practices can reduce the spread of the disease.
dairy cows.” Journal of the American Veterinary MedicalAssociation. 216: 1288-90.
• Reduce the number of cows with hoof insults.
Nutter, W. T. and J. A. Moffit 1990. “Digital dermati- An injury to the hoof predisposes a cow to infec- tis control.” Veterinary Record. 126:200-2001 tion with Treponema, so make sure that cows Read D. H. and R. L. Walker 1998. “Comparison of have proper footing and do not have to spend a papillomatous digital dermatitis and digital dermati- lot of time standing or walking on concrete.
tis of cattle by histopathology and immunohis-tochemistry.” Proceedings of the 10th international • Provide a clean dry housing area. Bacteria symposium on lameness in ruminants, Lucere p268.
need moisture, deprive them of moisture and Rebhun, W. C., R. M. Payne, J. M. King, M. Wolfe, and S. M. Begg. 1980 “Interdigital papillomatous in dairy • Pay special attention to areas that do not re- cattle.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Asso- ceive maximum sunlight. In a feedlot dairy, most of the corral space receives maximum sun- Shearer, J. 1998. “Lameness of dairy cattle: consequences light exposure. However, cows tend to congre- and causes.” Compendium Bovine Practitioner. 32: 79.
gate under the shades, especially in the sum- Shearer, J. K. and J. Hernandez. 2000. “Efficacy of two mer. These areas often get wet and muddy and modified nonantibiotic formulations (Victory) for can become a breeding ground for disease.
treatment of papillomatous digital dermatitis in diary • Condition corrals if you do not scrape fre- cows.” Journal of Dairy Science. 83:741-5.
quently. Treponoma bacteria are microaero- New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Departmentof Agriculture cooperating.
Printed March 2005
Las Cruces, NM
Guide B-122 • Page 3


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