Digitalitus dermatitus

Digitalitus dermatitus or Mortellaro’s disease (also known as italian foot rot) is an infectius claw disease which in the last couple of years has become more and more common in livestock farming. This disease can be recognized by an inflammation of the skin at the area where skin changes into claw horn. The inflammable spot is reddish and looks a bit like a strawberry. Most often the hairs are standing upright around the mortelarro areas.

The most common areas where you’ll see this are the pastern and the interdigital skin. A very difficult, hard to cure area, is at the front of the claw above the coronary band. Your cow might experience a long-lasting, hard to cure lameness in the case of damage at the coronary band.

Mortellaro’s disease might also occur during a sole ulcer or white line abcess hereby seriously complicating the healing process. Especially first years calf cows are very sensitive for this disease and get acute lameness. Older cows appear to have built up a certain resistance against it; they might get Mortellaro’s disease, but are not as lame. It is possible that even young livestock gets seriously hit by the disease.

Sick animals often balance slightly at the top of their toe trying to evade the painful areas. The direct cause of Mortellaro is still unknown. So far it appears that the occurance of Treponema bacteria in the manure might play a role.

Individual cases can be treated by carefully cleaning the sore spots with paper, without causing the wound to bleed. After that you can spray the spot with antibiotica spray. Let the spray dry and repeat the procedure. Treatment with hoofgel also works very well; clean the wound carefully, apply the hoofgel on top of the wound and then wrap the hoof into cotton and adhesive bandages.

These treatments are usually combined with formaline or coppersulfide footbaths. Apply once a week a formaline footbath of 5% formaline and you will normally see an improvement of foot foul as well as mortellaro issues. (see also footbaths).


(Cattle Lameness and Hoofcare R.Blowey)