Management-Associated Risk Factors and Economic Impact of Anaplasmosis in Illinois Beef Herds

Progress report for ONC19-064

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2019: $39,955.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2022
Grant Recipient: University of Illinois
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Teresa Steckler
University of Illinois
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Project Information


No Final Report Filed.  2021 Progress report only.

The goal of our research is to enhance the health, welfare, and sustainability of beef production by identifying cost effective strategies to control anaplasmosis.

We hypothesize that:

  • herd management practices affect the distribution of anplasmosis in Illinois, and
  • anaplasmosis has a substantial negative economic impact on Illinois beef producers.

Anaplasmosis (A. marginale in the U.S.) is the most prevalent tickborne disease of cattle worldwide. Clinical cases experience weight loss, anemia, reduced milk production, abortions, and death.  The US cost of clinical anaplasmosis was estimated at $400 per animal with annual beef industry losses of $300 million.  A. marginale is transmitted via ticks, biting flies, needles, dehorning and tattooing.  Subclinical immune system impairment may also increase disease susceptibility and reduce productivity. 

This field-based study partners with 4 Illinois beef producers to prospectively collect real-world management, disease and production data on uninfected, subclinical, and clinically infected cows and calves. Statistical analysis of management and production data will be used to identify risk factors for disease transmission and the role of anaplasmosis on animal productivity and health.  Results will be disseminated to industry stakeholders through extension outreach and publications, providing information to conduct herd specific cost-benefit analysis of anaplasmosis prevention and control programs.

Project Objectives:

Research Project Objectives:

  • Determine the economic impact of anaplasmosis in Illinois beef herds
  • Identify management practices associated increased risk of anaplasmosis
  • Identify cost effective strategies to reduce the economic impact of anaplasmosis

Education Component Objectives:

Outreach to stakeholders will increase adoption of herd-specific, economically sustainable disease prevention and control measures including:

  • Cull positive animals
  • Maintain a closed herd
  • Purchase replacements from negative herds
  • Increase insect vector control
  • Targeting of  antimicrobial preventives during high risk seasons
  • Vaccination
  • Changing needles and palpation sleeves between animals
  • Sanitizing contaminated equipment between animals


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Bruce Betzold
  • Larry Gross
  • Chip and Sue Unsicker
  • Todd Slykhuis


Materials and methods:

This study includes four cooperating beef producers that are located throughout the state of Illinois - north western, central, southern and south western Illinois to obtain representative samples from locations throughout the state. Previous research showed that A. marginale levels varied from southern to northern Illinois. Potential on-farm prevalence differences could affect the economic impact of the disease.  All beef producers raise Angus and/or Angus cross cattle. Two herds calve both in the spring and fall, but only one farm elected to include both herds. There are approximately 650 cows included in the study. Multiple cow and calf blood samples (approximately 2600 samples) have been collected to determine A. marginale status at the following times for all farms: cow baseline at initiation of the study, cows and calves before calves are 90 days old, cows and calves at weaning, and each fall. All blood is/will be analyzed for the presence of A. marginale DNA via qPCR . The following production data has been/will be collected: pregnancy rates, number of services (repeat breeders), cow cull rates, birth and weaning weights, and feedlot and carcass data. Data collection is on-going and no statistical analysis has been performed.

Research results and discussion:

Blood and production data has been collected in the first year of the study. All blood collected has been analyzed for the presence of A. marginale. Sample collection for year two of the grant has concluded and samples sent for analysis. Compilation of individual necessary farm data is on going. PCR data is being collected and entered into spreadsheets for later statistical analysis.


Participation Summary
4 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

40 Consultations
2 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
2 On-farm demonstrations
35 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

250 Farmers participated
5 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

The research is on going thus no outreach/educational programs have been completed yet. Preliminary data has been presented to cattlemen at several meetings as well as on-farm presentations.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.