May 2017
Farm & Field

Anaplasmosis Is on the Rise

What You Can Do to Protect Your Herd


Anaplasmosis is spread through biting insects like flies and ticks.

Given how mobile our national cattle herd is now, it should be of no surprise that cases of anaplasmosis are on the rise. Anaplasmosis is most commonly found in the United States in the southeastern, Gulf Coast, lower plains and western regions; however, cases have been reported in all states except Hawaii and Alaska. Here’s why you should be concerned:


What is Anaplasmosis?

Anaplasmosis is a contagious, bloodborne disease most commonly caused by the parasite Anaplasma marginale. The disease is spread through the transfer of blood from animal to animal. This may occur mechanically through insect bites (ticks, flies and mosquitoes) or through use of contaminated instruments (needles, dehorners, castration equipment, etc.). It can even transfer from dam to fetus across the placenta.


Symptoms are Worse in Older Cattle

Clinical symptoms exhibited depend upon the age of infected cattle. Calves undergo mild infections and rarely show symptoms, but become carriers for life. Cattle 1-2 years in age exhibit severe symptoms, but rarely die. Cattle over 2 years become severely ill and up to 60 percent are likely to die unless treated. Cattle that survive severe anaplasmosis infection without treatment are often culled due to lowered production and are carriers for life. A carrier animal’s blood is infective for susceptible cattle.

Anaplasmosis symptoms result from red blood cell destruction. Disease symptoms include fever of 104-107 degrees, anemia, depression, decreased feed intake, yellow mucous membranes, rapid breathing, increased belligerence, dehydration, constipation and sudden death. Diagnosis is confirmed through a blood test. Other diseases that can be confused with anaplasmosis are leptospirosis, bacillary hemoglobinuria and pasteurella. Always consult with a veterinarian to confirm diagnosis if you suspect anaplasmosis.



A diagram of the lifecycle of Anaplasma marginale.


Outbreaks occur when carriers and susceptible cattle are pastured together with no control program in place. Prevention methods include measures to control biting flies and ticks. Also, care must be taken to sanitize surgical equipment (dehorners, castration instruments, etc.) between animals and to change needles often when administering vaccines and medications to reduce the risk of transmission. Other prevention methods include segregation of cattle into carrier and clean herds, and managing them separately. There are vaccines available, but reported side effects make vaccinations unpopular.




Use of one of the tetracycline class of drugs in the disease’s early stages usually ensures cattle survival. Depending on the drug, administration methods include injection or daily intake of medicated feed or medicated feed supplements. Because infected cattle are more susceptible to handling stress due to their lowered red blood cell counts, many prefer to treat via medicated feeds or supplements.

Oral delivery of chlortetracycline via a medicated feed or medicated feed supplement now falls under the Veterinary Feed Directive rules implemented by the Food and Drug Administration started Jan. 1, 2017. You probably already know this but to review. This new rule means you can only feed CTC to cattle under the direction of a licensed veterinarian with whom you have a valid veterinary-client-patient-relationship. You must have valid VFD paperwork in order to purchase CTC-medicated feeds, premixes or supplements. Producers must use these medicated products exactly as indicated on the FDA-approved label. There is absolutely no extra-label usage allowed, even by veterinarians. If a label states that it is to be mixed with feed, it must be mixed with feed. Use contrary to the label directions is a violation of the VFD.


How Can SWEETLIX Help?

SWEETLIX offers a wide variety of supplements to help cattle producers combat anaplasmosis, from free-choice fly control options to CTC-medicated premixes (with and without fly control) to two FDA-approved free-choice CTC supplements. In this article, I’m going to focus on our two free-choice supplements.

Remember, VFD rules require labels be followed exactly. If an inspector finds a producer is feeding a CTC-medicated mixing mineral in a free-choice manner, the producer and subsequently the veterinarian giving oversight would be in violation and subject to enforcement. For this reason, if you want to deliver CTC on a free-choice basis, you absolutely need to purchase an FDA-approved free-choice supplement.


SWEETLIX Aureo Anaplaz Block 700 Pressed Block

This highly palatable block consistently draws in grazing cattle to deliver Aureomycin daily at recommended levels when label directions are followed. Start by providing one SWEETLIX Aureo Anaplaz Block 700 per five head of cattle and then adjust block numbers and placement for optimum intake. Provide SWEETLIX Aureo Anaplaz Block 700 when carrier vectors are active (from last frost in the spring to first killing frost in the fall). Be sure to remove all other free-choice sources of salt or protein to ensure proper intake of Aureo Anaplaz Block 700.


SWEETLIX Aureo FC C6000 Mineral

For those who already have mineral feeders throughout their pastures, this option is for you! This highly palatable mineral is designed to consistently draw in cattle under grazing conditions so as to deliver recommended levels of Aureomycin. SWEETLIX Aureo FC C6000 Mineral contains weather protection, so it will form an edible, pliable film on top of minerals when exposed to rain or humidity to protect the mineral underneath. Just place SWEETLIX Aureo FC C6000 Mineral in mineral feeders near loafing and watering areas. To make sure cattle do not overeat SWEETLIX Aureo FC C6000 Mineral, provide a nonmedicated mineral supplement at least 14 days before feeding the medicated SWEETLIX Aureo FC C6000 Mineral.



In summary, anaplasmosis is on the rise in cattle in the contiguous United States. Cattle owners should be concerned because anaplasmosis has the potential to be economically devastating to a herd. Control of anaplasmosis includes management to prevent or reduce blood transmission between animals and judicious use of tetracycline drugs when warranted. Because anaplasmosis-infected cattle are more susceptible to stress, self-fed administration of CTC is a preferred method of treatment. SWEETLIX offers two FDA-approved, free-choice supplements containing Aureomycin. Both products require VFDs. SWEETLIX conveniently offers premade VFD forms for each product that can be downloaded from by you or your veterinarian. Visit to learn more or to find a dealer near you.


 Jackie Nix is an animal nutritionist with Ridley Block Operations ( You can contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 1-800-325-1486 for questions or to learn more about SWEETLIX mineral and protein supplements for cattle, goats, horses, sheep and wildlife. References available upon request.