Introduction and Background

JAW Coetzer, Professor Emeritus - Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa


University of Pretoria

The production of the first edition with a title Infectious Diseases of Livestock with special reference to southern Africa was inspired by the three outstanding editions of the textbook written by Dr Michiel Wilhelm Henning titled Animal Diseases in South Africa, the first of which appeared in 1932 and the third in 1956.

These are regrettably out of print and are virtually unobtainable, but much reference is made to them in this edition. Although fully aware of the daunting task it would take to produce the second edition, the editors decided to revise the book because of the excellent reviews the first edition had received in several well-known international journals, the two prizes that were awarded to it, and the high national and international demand for the book.

The first edition of the book entitled: Infectious Diseases of Livestock with special reference to southern Africa, 1994, JAW Coetzer, GR Thomson and RC Tustin (eds) and the second edition titled: Infectious Diseases of Livestock, 2004, JAW Coetzer and RC Tustin (eds) received the following awards:

  • Bill Venter Award in 1997 in recognition of outstanding contribution to research published in book form by university personnel in South Africa,
  • Malbrant-Feuten Prize of the French Veterinary Academy (Académie Vétérinaire de France) in 1998 for producing a book of international standard,
  • A Certificate in 2005 from the Scientific Committee of the 5th International Conference of Animal Health Information Specialists, representing the veterinary librarian worldwide, expressing its appreciation for the invaluable contribution to the world’s veterinary literature.

The definition of livestock in this work encompasses cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, donkeys and mules. It will be noted that the collective noun that is frequently used for the latter three animal species and zebras is 'equid'.

In addition to the 28 protozoal and nine rickettsial diseases in Volume 1, chapters are included on the main vectors of diseases (e.g. ticks, tsetse flies, Muscidae, Tabanidae, Culicoides midges and mosquitoes), the main principles/methods of control of infectious diseases, and infectious diseases of particular importance at the wildlife/livestock interface. Volume 2 contains 83 diseases caused by viruses and virus-like diseases, and Volume 3, 80 diseases caused by bacteria (including mycoplasmas), fungi and algae, as well as a small number of conditions of unknown or uncertain aetiology.

Each disease is dealt with in terms of its introduction, aetiology, epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical signs, pathology, diagnosis, differential diagnosis and control. A comprehensive list of references is provided for each disease. To facilitate readability, the references are numbered in the text.

We believe that, the information provided will be invaluable to undergraduates and postgraduates in faculties, schools and colleges teaching veterinary medicine, and that veterinary researchers, veterinarians in farm practice, animal health officers, stock breeders and all those charged with the promotion of animal health and the prevention of livestock and wildlife diseases should also find it a valuable addition to their reference libraries.

As both editions of the book have been out of print for several years and because of the high national and international demand it was decided to make these resources again available in a modern and appealing format through an online platform and then to update the text in the next year or so.


Dr Bernard Vallat, Former Director General OIE

World Organisation for Animal Health

The focus of the book is on infectious diseases of importance to livestock and wildlife. Many of these diseases have the potential of transgressing international boundaries and consequently affecting international trade in animals and their products with serious socio-economic consequences for countries in which they occur or into which they are introduced.

It is well known that several of these diseases often pose the biggest constraint to the sustainable socio-economic development of agricultural communities in developing countries.

The first edition of this book, now out of print, was published under the title Infectious Diseases of Livestock with Special Reference to Southern Africa in 1994 as a set of two volumes. It was very well received by veterinary and animal husbandry professionals, receiving glowing book reviews in several well-known international journals as well as two prizes:

  • Malbrant-Feunten Prize in 1998 from the Academie Veterinaire de France, and
  • Bill Venter Literary Award in 1996, which is awarded for outstanding contributions by university personnel in South Africa.

This new second edition has been expanded to include the majority of infectious diseases present in farm animals across the world, this necessitating the new title Infectious Diseases of Livestock and expansion to a set of three volumes.

The focus of the book is on infectious diseases of importance to livestock and wildlife. Many of these diseases have the potential of transgressing international boundaries and consequently affecting international trade in animals and their products with serious socio-economic consequences for countries in which they occur or into which they are introduced. It is well known that several of these diseases often pose the biggest constraint to the sustainable socio-economic development of agricultural communities in developing countries. In addition, the highly contagious diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, and African swine fever, and those that have public health implications, such as Rift Valley fever and anthrax, may be used as bio-weapons or in agri-bioterrorism.

Globalization and the ever-increasing trade of animals and their products create a situation which facilitates the potential spread of many diseases to countries where they have been eradicated, often at great cost, or countries where they have not previously occurred. The risk of emergence or re-emergence of diseases in the developed world is therefore at an all-time high. Good examples to illustrate this point are the emergence of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom and other countries, with devastating consequences. Climatic changes such as those currently occurring in many parts of the world may also be responsible for the emergence of vector-borne diseases in new geographical areas, as demonstrated by the outbreaks of Rift Valley fever in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and of bluetongue in some Mediterranean countries.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a good example where animal husbandry and practices played a role in the emergence of a 'new' disease. It is important to note that some of these emerging/re-emerging animal diseases may also have a significant bearing on public health, e.g. Rift Valley fever, brucellosis and tuberculosis.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) classifies animal diseases based on the nature of their spread, the socio-economic or public health consequences they may have, and their effects on international trade in animals and animal products. The introduction (emergence) of a disease can have a devastating effect on a country with a sizable export trade in animals and animal products. It is estimated that economic losses due to lost trade are about ten times those incurred during depopulation (stamping-out) and disinfection. Early detection and prompt regulatory measures should therefore be regarded as the most efficient means to minimize these serious losses.

The objectives of the OIE include ensuring transparency in the global animal health and zoonoses situation; collecting, analysing and disseminating scientific veterinary information; providing expertise and encouraging international solidarity in the control of animal diseases; safeguarding world trade by publishing health standards for international trade in animals and animal products, providing a better guarantee of the safety of food of animal origin; and promoting animal welfare through a science-based approach. The information provided in this work is of great assistance in the realization of many of these objectives.

Infectious Diseases of Livestock will remind all those concerned with livestock diseases of their national and international responsibilities. Many of the diseases, indeed, constitute a very real threat to the world, whose human population continues to expand at an exponential rate.

The editorial team should be commended for the remarkable task of collating the contributions of world­ renowned scientists in their respective fields of expertise.

I therefore have much pleasure in recommending this work to all veterinarians and other professionals dealing with livestock and livestock diseases.