Intestinal Diseases of Pigs and Cattle


Intestinal diseases are major causes of sickness and death among livestock, racking up huge costs for the livestock industry. Furthermore, many of the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause these diseases in livestock can be transmitted easily to humans when animal feces contaminate foods or water supplies. Foodborne illness is a serious public health concern in the U.S. Each year, roughly 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases. Costs associated with medical treatment, productivity losses, and premature deaths total billions of dollars each year. Interventions including vaccines, antibiotic treatments, farming practices, and producer and consumer education have spurred a decline in foodborne illness incidence; however, some diseases still have no effective treatments, some strains have developed drug-resistance, and new strains continue to emerge. As livestock production systems grow larger and more complex, disease control is becoming more necessary. On the other hand, special disease control and food safety techniques may be needed for natural, grass-fed, and organic livestock production due to constraints on acceptable drug use and farming practices. To develop precise detection methods and effective treatments, scientists need to fully understand the causes, effects, and patterns of intestinal diseases. Given the wide range of intestinal pathogens and types of livestock production systems in which they occur, scientists from across the U.S. and multiple disciplines must share expertise and resources to pursue solutions that protect and optimize animal welfare and food safety.

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