The word ‘footrot’ is often mistakenly used to refer to many types of lameness in cattle. Footrot is a bacterial infection between the two claws of the foot. It is typically caused by the Fusobacterium necrophorum bacterium, which invades damaged or injured feet. Because footrot is a bacterial infection to the fleshy part of the foot, this type of lameness can be treated with antibiotics.
There are several different types of lameness, many of which cannot be treated with antibiotics. Whenever possible, producers should closely inspect the feet to determine the type of lameness in order to choose the appropriate treatment. An improper diagnosis can lead to unnecessary administration of antimicrobials, prolonged discomfort to the animal and increasing loss of production. If a lame animal does not improve with antibiotics, it does not have footrot.
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