Alopecia is the partial or complete loss of hair from skin. Its main impact in the live export process is not on health but on the aesthetic appearance of the cattle, and on hide value and acceptability at destination.
Differentiating alopecic lesions as to whether they are discrete or diffuse, limited or extensive, and whether they are accompanied by changes in colour and conformation of the underlying skin will give clues as to the cause. Main causes of alopecia in the live export process include:
Specimens for laboratory diagnosis include skin biopsy from the margin of active lesions for histology, hair and deep skin scrapings from the periphery of active lesions submitted dry for microbiology (including fungal culture), and insects for entomology.
Choice of treatment will be determined by the diagnosis. With many skin diseases, letting them run their course is often the most practical and cost-effective treatment option. The use of injectable antibiotics or topical sprays or ointments is reserved for special circumstances.
As with many diseases, providing a stress-free, uncrowded, dry, sunlit environment may reduce spread and expression of some skin diseases. A good inspection system applied at selection may prevent contagious animals entering the export process.