Dog owners are being urged to play their part in preventing a disease that can have a devastating effect on cattle.
Dairy farmers in the High Peak have, this spring, been left counting the cost of Neosporosis, a disease that can cause cows to abort or give birth to weak calves who can also have problems walking.
Neosporosis can be carried by dogs, and although it does not tend to affect them, they can pass it on to cows through their faeces.
Now dog owners are being urged to ensure that their dogs are kept on a lead when crossing farmland and to ensure they clean up after their pets.
Vet Richard Knox of Knox and Devlin veterinary practice told the Advertiser that additional tests were being carried out at various High Peak farms to identify those animals with the disease.
He said: “We are blood testing looking for antibodies and have identified quite a few.”
The disease is not passed from cow to cow but is passed down from cows to their calves.
“The only species in the UK known to pass it on, apart from cows, are dogs,” said Mr Knox.
A dog can become infected by eating aborted material.
The disease can then be passed on through their faeces if left on farmland.
Mr Knox urged dog owners to help. “It is just good hygiene by dog owners as much as anything. When walking your dogs clean it up.”
He said the other issue with dog owners not cleaning up after their pets was Toxocariasis which can cause blindness in children.
Alison Pratt, NFU’s Derbyshire spokesperson said: “Neopsorosis is a complicated disease; we’re just beginning to understand more about it and its effect on farmers’ animals.
“What we do know is that dogs can carry the infection and pass it on through their faeces, so it’s very important that if you’re taking your dog for a walk in the countryside, that you pick up its faeces and take it home to dispose of it properly.
“It’s good manners to do this, but it will help to prevent the spread of this nasty disease.
“Even if there are no farm animals where you walk your dog, being a responsible owner and picking up after your dog is just as important in the countryside as it is in a village, town or city.”
There is no vaccine at the present time for Neosporosis.