Review/Oorsig Volume 23, Issue 01 - Page 19

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2019 plants was of major importance because since then the much-feared problem has become minor, thanks to sustainable veld management and knowing the danger signs. Challenge accepted wisdoms Fig 3. Geeldikkop – recovery case Form teams, use expertise and acknowledge contributions. Be alert to emerging or ‘new’ problems It was ‘authoritatively’ stated by theOnderstepoort fraternity in the 1970s that RSA was free of ovine footrot. But when I was transferred to Allerton RVL in Natal in 1981, farmers and vets confronted me with something I had never seen before. Descriptions in overseas literature indicated that we were probably dealing with footrot. Proving this was another matter – the organism Dichelobacter nodosis is a strict anaerobe with very particular nutrient growth requirements, and it had to be isolated out of a bacteriological zoo! In time, given persistence and good support, we were able to show that footrot was indeed present, leading us to applying the correct control measures. They can be wrong, like the following: Domsiekte is often (mis)diagnosed instead of milk fever – but by chance some ‘domsiekte’ ewes had been routinely tested for Calcium, which was shown to be low. Intrigued, I treated the recumbent ewes for milk fever and suddenly they arose and disappeared! This led us to showing that the two diseases could occur together, and that hypocalcaemia was often missed as the primary diagnosis. Examples of footrot, enzootic icterus and geeldikkop have already been mentioned, but worm control can be added here since conventional practice has led us to cause severe and extensive drug resistance in parasites. Nobody has all the knowledge or expertise. By working together and using the strengths of each member of the team, more progress can be made and more quickly. Researchers depend on a team that includes technical and administrative staff as well as farmers and farm workers in many cases, and they should all be acknowledged. We would never have made the progress we did in holistic, sustainable worm management (including Famacha and the 5 Point Check) without such teamwork. Using the legume Lespedeza cuneata (Smart Man’s Lucerne) for veld improvement, grazing, haymaking and worm control is a good example of integration of expertise. Diseases and problems are often multifactorial. Too often there is a fundamental and false assumption that there must be a single cause and therefore a single solution to a presenting problem, but usually there are many factors involved; sorting out their relative contributions can be daunting. Fig 4. Footrot, differentiated from other foot diseases (Image provided by Dr Gareth Bath) The occurrence of a mystery untreatable non- febrile condition in goats, that otherwise looked like heartwater, was shown to be caused by peripituitary abscessation. Probably initiated by ticks that escaped treatment under the very back-swept horns of Boer Goats. Much later at Onderstepoort we solved a strange skin disease that we showed was caused by a dermo-necrotic strain of the well-known Staphylococcus aureus. Controlling internal parasites is a prime example since by seeking to eradicate worms by suppressive treatment the problem was actually worsened – but by addressing all causative factors with the Big Five approach, sustainable control is attainable. The problem of eye infection (ophthalmia) is difficult to control because there are many organisms and factors involved; the same is true of pneumonia. Plan, design and modify the research. Good planning and design are essential for efficient and effective investigations and research. Where this was lacking, we made 19