Cattle Deaths with Drooling and Diarrhoea (3D) Syndrome


A syndrome with the key signs of drooling and diarrhoea leading to death has been reported by graziers in the Mossgiel/Hay/Ivanhoe area of NSW. Cases were first reported in 2006 and again in 2009 and 2013.

Combined losses across all properties where 3D syndrome has been investigated is in the hundreds though not all deaths were due to 3D syndrome. Samples have been tested for exotic viruses and all tests have been negative. The pattern of disease seen on affected properties and the extensive range of testing for infectious agents indicates that it is not caused simply by the presence of a transmissible/infectious agent. At this stage the cause of disease has not been identified. It is most likely that there are multiple causal factors. These factors are most likely to include plants within the paddock (but not a straightforward toxicity). As there is no evidence that the disease is being spread from property to property, there is no reason to place restrictions on the movement of cattle on account of 3D syndrome.

Further investigations of cattle with signs consistent with the 3D syndrome are important in order to determine the extent of the problem and to assist in determining the cause.

This factsheet provides general information to farmers and a separate factsheet for vets provides a case definition and indicates autopsy findings that would assist them investigating cases to determine if 3D syndrome is the likely cause of death.

On affected properties, owners have reported:

  • Mild illness initially- "off colour"
  • Off feed
  • Prefer to lie down
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhoea
  • Deaths- generally 1-5 days after first noting sick; some longer
  • Nearly all affected died
  • Generally little struggling prior to death
  • Stock in good condition
  • Cattle feel hot and if temperature measured, increased (41-42°C)
  • Cattle affected- 3D syndrome typically occurs in cattle 5 months or older