Page last updated at 13:29 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 14:29 UK

Calves dying from mystery disease

The cause of the condition is not yet known by vets

Veterinary scientists are investigating a mystery disease which is killing young cattle across Scotland.

There have been 25 confirmed cases of Bleeding Calf Syndrome, which attacks animals less than one month old.

Experts at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) said there had been an unexplained upsurge of the little-known but fatal disease.

Affected calves can have a persistent fever and develop serious bleeding from orifices and internally.

The cause of the illness is unknown but poisoning, genetic abnormality and drug reactions are being considered.

Suspected cases

The SAC scientists are working with colleagues at the Royal (Dick) Veterinary School and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency to discover what is behind the outbreak.

In order to learn more they are offering a free of charge post-mortem service to farmers and vets who have suspected cases.

Up to the end of August there were more than 25 confirmed cases from 18 farms in Scotland, with nearly 90% of these being seen in traditional beef herds.

Cases have been seen in the south-east and south-west of the country as well as in Fife, Perthshire and around Inverness and Aberdeen.

In England and Wales a similar number of cases have been identified but these have been almost exclusively in dairy herds.

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