Diseases in young farm animals resulting in a gastro-enteritis or diarrhoea are also known as scours.
Infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria cause this condition and have the common property of causing a net loss of water and electrolyte imbalances from the body, via the gut. Actual death from scours results from dehydration, acidosis, toxaemia and loss of electrolytes.
The severity of the disease is determined by the dose, type and pathogenicity of the infectious agent involved. The passive immunity of the newborn is determined by the quality and quantity of colostrum received.
Dehydration can be evaluated by pulling up the skin of the side of the neck. In a normal animal the skin snaps back into position quickly. In a dehydrated calf, the skin remains ‘tented’ according to the degree of dehydration. If the dehydration worsens, eyeballs sink away from the eyelids. Body temperatures below 38.05 °C and above 39.17 °C should be treated immediately.