An increased incidence of nasolacrimal duct fistula in the offspring of dam J and three of her sons (bulls A, B and C) prompted a study to investigate the prevalence and clinical manifestation of this anomaly. The dam J, bull B, 255 direct offspring of bulls A, B, and C and eight other direct and indirect offspring of cow J were examined. The periocular region of each animal was examined for unilateral or bilateral nasolacrimal duct fistula and the location, appearance and size of the lesions.
Of 265 cattle examined, 54 had unilateral (n = 24) or bilateral fistula (n = 30). The prevalence of affected offspring differed significantly among the three bulls. The fistulae were located medial to the medial canthus of the eye and were 1 to 10 mm (median, 1 mm) in height and 1 to 12 mm (median, 2 mm) in length. The shape of the opening was circular in 58, oval in 23 and slit-like in three. One other animal had a large opening with an atypical shape and another had an abnormal medial canthus with several fistulous openings. Seventy openings were pigmented and 52 were hairless. The fistulae were clinically significant in 12 animals.
The findings suggest a hereditary cause of nasolacrimal duct fistula in Brown Swiss cattle.
Cattle; Nasolacrimal duct; Nasolacrimal duct fistula; Congenital anomaly
Many of the ultrasonographic abdominal findings of adult cattle probably also apply to calves. However, significant changes associated with ruminal growth and transition from a milk to a roughage diet occur in young calves during the first few months, and it can be expected that ultrasonographic features of organs adjacent to the rumen such as spleen and liver also undergo significant changes. These have not been investigated to date and therefore the goal of this study was to describe ultrasonographic findings of the spleen, liver, gallbladder, caudal vena cava and portal vein in six healthy calves from birth to 104 days of age. Standing calves were examined ultrasonographically six times at three-week intervals starting on the first or second day of life using a 5.0-MHz transducer and techniques described previously.
The spleen was imaged on the left at the 5th to 12th intercostal spaces. The dorsal and ventral visible limits ran from cranioventral to caudodorsal because of superimposition of the lungs. The size of the spleen was largest at the 7th and 8th intercostal spaces and the maximum thickness was measured at the 9th to 12th intercostal spaces. The liver was seen in all calves on the right and could be imaged at the 5th to 12th intercostal spaces and the area caudal to the last rib. Similar to the spleen, the dorsal visible margin of the liver ran parallel to the ventral border of the lungs. The visible size of the liver was largest at the 8th to 11th intercostal spaces and the maximum thickness was measured at the 8th and 9th intercostal spaces. The parenchymal pattern consisted of numerous fine echoes homogeneously distributed over the entire organ. The gallbladder was most commonly seen at the 9th intercostal space and was circular, oval or pear-shaped on ultrasonograms. It extended beyond the ventral border of the liver depending on the amount of bile. The caudal vena cava was triangular in cross section but sometimes had a round or oval profile and was always seen in at least one intercostal space. The maximum circumference was measured at the 10th and 11th intercostal spaces. The portal vein was circular or oval in cross section and was characterised by stellate ramifications branching into the liver parenchyma. The portal vein could always be imaged at the 7th to 11th intercostal spaces and its mean diameter at the 9th to 11th intercostal spaces ranged from 1.2 cm to 1.8 cm.
The ultrasonographic findings of the spleen, liver, gallbladder, caudal vena cava and portal vein in six healthy Holstein-Friesian calves from birth to 104 days of age serve as reference values for the examination of these anatomical structures in diseased calves.
An automated technique for recording eating and rumination behaviour was evaluated in ten lactating Brown Swiss cows by comparing data obtained from a pressure sensor with data obtained via direct observation over a 24-hour period. The recording device involved a pressure sensor integrated in the noseband of a halter. The analysed variables included number and duration of individual rumination, eating and resting phases, total daily length of these phases and number of cuds chewed per day.
Eating and rumination phases were readily differentiated based on characteristic pressure profiles. Chewing movements during rumination were regular and generated regular waveforms with uniform amplitudes, whereas eating generated irregular waveforms with variable amplitudes. There was complete or almost complete agreement and no significant differences between data obtained via direct observation and pressure sensor technique. Both methods yielded an average of 16 daily eating phases with a mean duration of 28.3 minutes. Total time spent eating was 445.0 minutes for direct observation and 445.4 minutes for the pressure sensor technique. Both techniques recorded an average of 13.3 rumination phases with a mean duration of 30.3 (direct observation) and of 30.2 (pressure sensor) minutes. Total time spent ruminating per day, number of cuds per day and chewing cycles per cud were 389.3 and 388.3 minutes, 410.1 and 410.0 and 60.0 and 60.3 for direct observation and pressure sensor technique, respectively. There was a significant difference between the two methods with respect to mean number of chewing cycles per day (24′669, direct observation vs. 24′751, pressure sensor, P < 0.05, paired t-test). There were strong correlations between the two recording methods with correlation coefficients ranging from 0.98 to 1.00.
The results confirmed that measurements of eating and rumination variables obtained via the pressure sensor technique are in excellent agreement with data obtained via direct observation.
Cattle; Eating and rumination behaviour; Automated recording
This study describes the ultrasonographic findings of the rumen in 45 healthy dairy cows.
The cows were scanned on both sides using a 5.0 MHz transducer. The dorsal visible margin of the rumen ran parallel to the lung from cranioventral to caudodorsal. It was furthest from the dorsal midline at the 9th intercostal space (48.3 ± 9.24 cm) and closest at the 12th intercostal space (22.4 ± 3.27 cm). The longitudinal groove, which could be clearly identified at all examination sites because it appeared as a triangular notch, formed the ventral margin of the dorsal sac of the rumen. The dorsal sac of the rumen was largest at the caudal flank (40.3 ± 6.33 cm), where it was adjacent to the abdominal wall. The ventral sac of the rumen extended across the ventral midline into the right hemiabdomen and its ventral margin had a largely horizontal craniocaudal course. The height of the ventral sac of the rumen exceeded that of the dorsal sac at all examination sites; the maximum height was measured at the 12th intercostal space (62.6 ± 9.53 cm). The dorsal gas cap, characterised ultrasonographically by typical reverberation artifacts, was visible in all cows from the 12th intercostal space to the caudal flank. It was largest at the 12th intercostal space (20.5 ± 7.03 cm). The transition from the gas cap to the fibre mat was marked by the abrupt cessation of the reverberation artifacts. It was not possible to differentiate a fibre mat and a ventral fluid phase. The rumen could be imaged from the right side in 21 cows (47%).
Ultrasonography is well suited for the detailed examination of the rumen of cows. The reference values obtained from this study add to the diagnostic tools that are available for the assessment of bovine patients.
Laterality defects are rare in cattle and usually manifest as asplenia or
polysplenia syndrome. These syndromes may be associated with situs ambiguus,
which is a dislocation of some but not all internal organs. The objective of
this report was to describe the clinical and post-mortem findings including
the macroscopic and microscopic anatomy of selected organs in a cow with
polysplenia and situs ambiguus.
A 3.5-year-old Brown Swiss cow was referred to the Department of Farm
Animals, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, because of poor appetite
and recurrent indigestion. A diagnosis of situs ambiguus was based on the
results of physical examination, ultrasonography, exploratory laparotomy and
post-mortem examination. The latter revealed that the rumen was on the right
side and lacked compartmentalisation. There were two spleens, one on the
left (26.5 x 12.0 cm) and one on the right (20.5 x 5.5 cm), and the omasum
was located craniolateral to the ruminoreticulum on the left. The abomasum
was located on the right, although it had initially been displaced to the
left. The three-lobed liver occupied the left and central cranioventral
aspect of the abdominal cavity (cavum abdominis). Only the right and left
hepatic veins (vena hepatica dextra and sinistra) drained into the thoracic
segment of the caudal vena cava (vena cava caudalis), and histological
changes in the liver were indicative of impaired haemodynamics. The
mesojejunum was not fused with the mesentery of the spiral loop (ansa
spiralis) of the ascending colon (colon ascendens). The latter was folded
and the transverse colon (colon transversum) ran caudal to the cranial
mesenteric artery (arteria mesenteria cranialis). Fibrotic constrictions
were seen in the lumen of the caecum and proximal loop (ansa proximalis) of
the ascending colon. Both kidneys were positioned retroperitoneally in a
lumbar position. The lumbar segment of the caudal vena cava did not descend
to the liver and instead drained into the right azygous vein (vena azygos
Recurrent digestive problems and poor production in this patient may have
been caused by a lack of rumen compartmentalisation, abnormal abomasal
motility, constrictions in the large intestine (intestinum crassum) and
fibrosis of the liver. The abomasum had abnormal motility most likely
because it was anchored inadequately and only at its cranial aspect to the
liver by the lesser omentum (omentum minus) and to the dorsal abdominal wall
and rumen by a short greater omentum (omentum majus).
The study investigated the ultrasonographic appearance of the reticulum, rumen, omasum and abomasum of calves with ruminal drinking syndrome.
In ten milk-fed calves with ruminal drinking syndrome the reticulum, rumen, omasum and abomasum were examined by ultrasonography using a 5-MHz linear transducer before, during and after the ingestion of milk.
The reticulum could be imaged in eight of ten calves before feeding. The reticular wall appeared as an echoic line, similar to mature cattle, and reticular folds were seen in eight calves. The reticular content appeared as echoic heterogeneous fluid. Reticular contractions were biphasic with 1.0 ± 0.38 contractions per minute. The rumen had a mean wall thickness of 2.1 mm dorsally, 3.5 mm at the level of the longitudinal groove, and 3.2 mm ventrally. The ventral sac of the rumen of all calves contained echoic heterogeneous liquid. During feeding the milk entering the rumen could be seen as hyperechoic liquid in five calves. The omasum was seen on the right side as a crescent-shaped line medial to the liver in seven calves. Only the omasal wall closest to the transducer was seen as an echoic line with a mean thickness of 2.7 mm. The ultrasonographic appearance of the omasum did not change during or after feeding. The abomasum was seen immediately caudal to the xyphoid on both sides of the midline before feeding. The mean length at the ventral midline was 22.2 cm. The ingesta were heterogeneous in all calves and the abomasal folds were distinct in eight. The mean lateral expansion of the abomasum from the ventral midline to the left and right varied from 8.7 to 13.8 cm and from 4.3 to 11.3 cm. The milk entering the abomasum was observed in all calves, and signs of milk clotting were seen in all calves 15 minutes after feeding.
This study showed that ultrasonography is useful for detecting milk in the reticulum and rumen of calves with ruminal drinking syndrome.
This retrospective study describes the clinical and laboratory findings, treatment and outcome of 461 cattle with caecal dilatation.
The general condition and demeanor were abnormal in 93.1% of cases, and 32.1% of the patients had colic. Ruminal motility was reduced or absent in 78.3% of cattle. In 82.6% of cases, swinging and/or percussion auscultation were positive on the right side, and 82.4% had little or no faeces in the rectum. Caecal dilatation could be diagnosed via rectal palpation in 405 (88.0%) cattle. There was caudal displacement of the dilated caecum in 291 patients, torsion around the longitudinal axis in 20 and retroflexion in 94. The most important laboratory finding was hypocalcaemia, which occurred in 85.1% of cases. Of the 461 cattle, 122 (26.5%) initially received conservative therapy (intravenous fluids, neostigmine, calcium borogluconate) and 329 (71.4%) underwent surgical treatment. Ten patients were slaughtered or euthanased after the initial physical examination. Of the 122 cattle that received conservative treatment, 42 did not respond after one to two days of therapy and required surgical treatment. The final number of cattle that were operated was 371 (80.5%). Because of a grave prognosis, 24 cases were euthanased or slaughtered intraoperatively. Another 24 cattle did not respond to one or more operations and were euthanased or slaughtered. Of the 461 patients, 403 (87.4%) responded to either conservative or surgical treatment and were cured, and 58 were euthanased or slaughtered.
Caecal dilatation can usually be diagnosed based on clinical findings and treated conservatively or surgically. Swinging and percussion auscultation as well as rectal examination are important diagnostic tools. Conservative treatment is not rewarding in cattle considered surgical candidates with suspected caecal torsion or retroflexion and surgery should not be delayed in these patients.
This paper reports the clinical findings, surgical and medical management, and necropsy of a 6-year-old cow with thrombosis of the cranial vena cava and thrombo-embolic pneumonia following traumatic reticuloperitonitis. The clinical diagnosis was confirmed by necropsy.
This study investigated the effect of milk yield on blood flow variables in the milk vein and musculophrenic vein in dairy cows.
Five healthy dry cows, five cows with a daily milk yield of 10 kg and five others with a daily milk yield of 20 kg underwent B-mode and colour Doppler sonographic examination. The diameter of the veins, blood flow velocities and blood flow volumes were measured on both sides in standing, non-sedated cows using a 7.5 MHz linear transducer.
Lactating cows had significantly higher blood flow velocities in the milk vein than dry cows; the maximum blood flow velocity of dry cows and those with a daily milk yield of 10 and 20 kg were 14.04, 38.77 and 39.49 cm/s, respectively, the minimum velocities were 0.63, 3.02 and 2.64 cm/s, respectively, and the mean maximum velocities were 8.21, 26.67 und 28.22 cm/s, respectively. Cows producing 20 kg of milk a day had a blood flow volume of 3.09 l/min, which was significantly higher than 0.79 l/min recorded in dry cows. Lactating cows had significantly higher mean maximum blood flow velocities in the musculophrenic vein than dry cows. Blood flow variables of both veins did not differ significantly between the left and right side.
This study showed that milk yield has a profound effect on blood flow variables in the milk vein and to a lesser extent the musculophrenic vein. This must be taken into consideration in future Doppler sonographic studies of these veins and possibly other vessels. Furthermore, measurements on one side are representative of both sides.
Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is a fatal herpesvirus infection, affecting various wild and domestic ruminants all over the world. Water buffaloes were reported to be particularly susceptible for the ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) causing the sheep-associated form of MCF (SA-MCF). This report describes the first case of possibly caprine-associated malignant catarrhal fever symptoms in a domestic water buffalo in Switzerland.
The buffalo cow presented with persistent fever, dyspnoea, nasal bleeding and haematuria. Despite symptomatic therapy, the buffalo died and was submitted to post mortem examination. Major findings were an abomasal ulceration, a mild haemorrhagic cystitis and multifocal haemorrhages on the epicardium and on serosal and mucosal surfaces. Eyes and oral cavity were not affected. Histopathology revealed a mild to moderate lymphohistiocytic vasculitis limited to the brain and the urinary bladder. Although these findings are typical for MCF, OvHV-2 DNA was not detected in peripheral blood lymphocytes or in paraffin-embedded brain, using an OvHV-2 specific real time PCR. With the aid of a panherpesvirus PCR, a caprine herpesvirus-2 (CpHV-2) sequence could be amplified from both samples.
To our knowledge, this is the first report of malignant catarrhal fever in the subfamily Bovinae, where the presence of CpHV-2 could be demonstrated. The etiological context has yet to be evaluated.
This report describes the results of clinical, ultrasonographic and computed tomographic examination of a 16-year-old goat with extraskeletal osteosarcoma of the thorax.
The lead clinical signs were abnormal condition and demeanour, fever, tachycardia, tachypnoea, dyspnoea and dilated jugular veins. Ultrasonographic examination of the thorax revealed a precardial mass, measuring 16.4 by 11.4 by 14.2 cm. Computed tomographic examination showed dorsocaudal displacement of the trachea, heart and lungs to the right. A tentative diagnosis of mediastinal or pleural neoplasia was made, and the goat was euthanased and necropsied. A definitive diagnosis was based on histological examination of the mass.
To our knowledge, this case report is the first description of extraskeletal osteosarcoma of the thorax in goats and serves to broaden the diagnostic spectrum of thoracic diseases in this species. Extraskeletal osteosarcoma should be part of the differential diagnosis in goats with thoracic tumours.
This is the first description of the ultrasonographic findings in a cow with vascular hamartoma of the liver.
Ultrasonographic examination of a six-year-old Swiss Braunvieh cow revealed an excessive number of hypoechogenic blood vessels in the liver parenchyma and a thrombus in the right hepatic vein. The activities of the liver enzymes and the concentration of bilirubin were within the reference ranges. At postmortem examination, a poorly delineated, non-encapsulated lesion, measuring approximately 10 cm × 10 cm in diameter, was found in the right liver lobe. The cut surface of the lesion was sponge-like and contained extremely dilated blood vessels, one of which was occluded with a branching red thrombus. A vascular hamartoma of the liver with thrombosis was diagnosed based on the histological findings.
To our knowledge, this is the first description of the ultrasonographic findings of vascular hamartoma of the liver in a cow. Hamartoma should be considered part of the differential diagnosis in cows with an abnormally large number of blood vessels in the liver parenchyma. This case report broadens the spectrum of liver diseases and ultrasonographic findings of the liver in cattle.
This case report describes the clinical and ultrasonographic findings in a Swiss Braunvieh cow with lymphosarcoma of the abomasum.
The main clinical findings were vomiting in response to eating and melena. The results of serum biochemistry and rumen fluid analysis were indicative of abomasal reflux syndrome. The main ultrasonographic findings were two enlarged lymph nodes caudal to the reticulum and a severely enlarged abomasum with thickening of the abomasal wall and folds. Based on all the findings, pyloric stenosis caused by lymphosarcoma was tentatively diagnosed and later confirmed at postmortem examination.
This is an interesting case, which broadens the spectrum of abomasal reflux syndrome.
Concomitantly with an outbreak of fatal anaplasmosis in a cattle herd in Switzerland in 2002, we detected two bovine hemoplasma species in diseased animals: Mycoplasma wenyonii (formerly Eperythrozoon wenyonii) and a second, novel bovine hemoplasma species later designated “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemobos” (synonym, “Candidatus Mycoplasma haemobovis”). The second species was characterized by a shorter 16S rRNA gene. The aims of the present study were to provide a detailed molecular characterization of this species, to develop specific quantitative real-time PCR assays for the two bovine hemoplasma species, and to apply these assays in order to evaluate the prevalence and clinical significance of the hemoplasmas. Sequencing of the near-complete 16S rRNA gene of the second hemoplasma revealed that it was 94% identical to that of Mycoplasma haemofelis, an anemia-inducing feline hemoplasma species, but less than 85% identical to that of the bovine hemoplasma M. wenyonii. Using the newly developed assays, a total of 159 animals from the anaplasmosis outbreak were reexamined. In addition, we tested 57 clinically ill and 61 healthy Swiss cattle, as well as 47 calves. Both hemoplasmas were highly prevalent in adult cattle but occurred rarely in calves. Animals from the herd with the fatal anemia outbreak were more frequently infected with M. wenyonii and exhibited higher M. wenyonii blood loads than animals with unrelated diseases and healthy animals. Coinfections may increase the pathogenicity and clinical significance of bovine hemoplasmosis.
The reticulum plays a crucial role in the ruminant digestive tract because the primary cycle of rumen motility always starts with a reticular contraction. In contrast to cattle, there are only few results on the ultrasonographic examination of the reticulum in goats. Therefore, it was the goal of the present study, to describe the results of ultrasonography of the reticulum of 30 healthy Saanen goats.
Ultrasonography was carried out on standing, non-sedated animals using a 5.0 MHz linear transducer. The shape, contour and motility of the reticulum were investigated. A nine-minute video recording of the reticulum was made for each goat and the frequency, duration and amplitude of reticular contractions were calculated as described for cattle.
The reticulum appeared as a crescent-shaped structure with a smooth contour located immediately adjacent to the diaphragm. 0.8 to 2.1 (1.41 ± 0.31) reticular contractions were seen per minute. In all goats, biphasic reticular contractions were observed. 90% of the goats also had monophasic reticular contractions, and two had triphasic contractions. During the nine-minute observation periods, there were 0 to 6 monophasic reticular contractions and 6 to 15 biphasic contractions per goat. The duration of the biphasic contractions was 6.56 ± 0.74 s, which was significantly longer than the monophasic contractions at 4.31 ± 0.81 s. The average interval between two reticular contractions was 45.06 ± 12.57 s.
Ultrasonography of the reticulum in goats is a valuable tool to characterise the appearance and motility of this organ. In addition to the biphasic motility pattern seen in cattle the reticular motility of goats is characterized by monophasic reticular contractions. The results of the present study are an important contribution for better understanding of the reticular motility in goats.
Primary diseases of the omasum are uncommon in goats, although the omasum may be involved in various gastrointestinal disorders. Examination of the caprine omasum via ultrasonography requires a good understanding of the normal appearance of the organ. However, in contrast to cattle, there is a lack of reference information on this topic in goats. Thus, the goal of the present study was to describe the results of ultrasonography of the omasum in 30 healthy Saanen goats.
Ultrasonography was carried out in standing, non-sedated goats using a 5.0 MHz linear transducer. The location and size of the omasum, thickness of the omasal wall and visualisation of the abomasal laminae, contents and contractions were assessed. The omasum was visible from the 9th intercostal space (ICS) in all the goats, and from the 8th and 10th ICSs in 29 and 24 goats, respectively. The omasum was seen medial to the liver, but only the omasal wall closest to the transducer was visible. The dorsal omasal limit formed a dorsally convex curve running from cranioventral to caudodorsal and was furthest from the dorsal midline in the 6th ICS. The ventral omasal limit formed a ventrally convex curve. The size of the omasum was largest (10.2 ± 3.1 cm) in the 9th ICS and decreased cranially and caudally from this position. Active omasal motility was recorded in 20 goats with 0.3 to 2.0 contractions per minute.
The findings of this study provide reference ranges for the interpretation of the location and size of the omasum in goats with suspected omasal abnormalities. Ultrasonography is an ideal diagnostic tool for evaluation of the omasum, which is not accessible to conventional examination techniques, such as inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation.
The aim of this report was to describe duodenal obstruction caused by a rubber foreign body in a cow.
The clinical, biochemical and ultrasonographic findings in a five-year-old Swiss Braunvieh cow with duodenal ileus caused by a calf feeding nipple are described. The main clinical signs were anorexia, ruminal tympany, decreased faecal output and abomasal reflux syndrome. Ultrasonographic examination revealed reticular hyperactivity and a dilated duodenum. A diagnosis of duodenal ileus was made and the cow underwent right-flank laparotomy, which revealed a dilation of the cranial part of the duodenum because of obstruction by a pliable foreign body. This was identified via enterotomy as a calf feeding nipple. The cow was healthy at the time of discharge four days after surgery and went on to complete a successful lactation.
To our knowledge, this is the first description of duodenal obstruction by a calf feeding nipple. This is an interesting case, which broadens the spectrum of the causes of duodenal ileus, which is usually caused by obstruction of the duodenum by a phytobezoar.
A 4.5-year-old Holstein-Friesian cow underwent surgery because of left abomasal displacement. Intra-operative palpation of the pyloric region revealed a phytobezoar. The abomasum containing the phytobezoar was exteriorized, and an incision was made directly over the mass in the region of the greater curvature of the pyloric part of the abomasum.
Prions are known to cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) after accumulation in the central nervous system. There is increasing evidence that prions are also present in body fluids and that prion infection by blood transmission is possible. The low concentration of the proteinaceous agent in body fluids and its long incubation time complicate epidemiologic analysis and estimation of spreading and thus the risk of human infection. This situation is particularly unsatisfactory for food and pharmaceutical industries, given the lack of sensitive tools for monitoring the infectious agent.
We have developed an adsorption matrix, Alicon PrioTrap®, which binds with high affinity and specificity to prion proteins. Thus we were able to identify prion protein (PrPC)–the precursor of prions (PrPSc)–in milk from humans, cows, sheep, and goats. The absolute amount of PrPC differs between the species (from µg/l range in sheep to ng/l range in human milk). PrPC is also found in homogenised and pasteurised off-the-shelf milk, and even ultrahigh temperature treatment only partially diminishes endogenous PrPC concentration.
In view of a recent study showing evidence of prion replication occurring in the mammary gland of scrapie infected sheep suffering from mastitis, the appearance of PrPC in milk implies the possibility that milk of TSE-infected animals serves as source for PrPSc.
Bovine anaplasmosis is a vector-borne disease that results in substantial economic losses in other parts of the world but so far not in northern Europe. In August 2002, a fatal disease outbreak was reported in a large dairy herd in the Swiss canton of Grisons. Diseased animals experienced fever, anorexia, agalactia, and depression. Anemia, ectoparasite infestation, and, occasionally, hemoglobinuria were observed. To determine the roles of vector-borne pathogens and to characterize the disease, blood samples were collected from all 286 animals: 50% of the cows were anemic. Upon microscopic examination of red blood cells, Anaplasma marginale inclusion bodies were found in 47% of the cows. The infection was confirmed serologically and by molecular methods. Interestingly, we also found evidence of infections with Anaplasma phagocytophilum, large Babesia and Theileria spp., and Mycoplasma wenyonii. The last two species had not previously been described in Switzerland. Anemia was significantly associated with the presence of the infectious agents detected, with the exception of A. phagocytophilum. Remarkably, concurrent infections with up to five infectious vector-borne agents were detected in 90% of the ill animals tested by PCR. We concluded that A. marginale was the major cause of the hemolytic anemia, while coinfections with other agents exacerbated the disease. This was the first severe disease outbreak associated with concurrent infections with vector-borne pathogens in alpine Switzerland; it was presumably curtailed by culling of the entire herd. It remains to be seen whether similar disease outbreaks will have to be anticipated in northern Europe in the future.
A total of 1,667 Ixodes ricinus ticks were collected from five regions in Switzerland where there have been sporadic occurrences of granulocytic ehrlichiosis in dogs and horses. The ticks were examined for rickettsiae of the Ehrlichia phagocytophila group via nested PCR. Twenty-one ticks (1.3%) were positive; 3 (0.5%) were nymphs, 6 (1.3%) were adult males, and 12 (1.9%) were adult females. The number of positive ticks varied with the stage of development and with the geographical origin. Nucleotide sequencing of the isolated PCR products identified these products as part of the 16S rRNA gene of Ehrlichia. In addition, these products had 100% homology with the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis. The occurrence of this agent in I. ricinus in Switzerland presents a potential danger of transmission of granulocytic ehrlichiosis to dogs, horses, and humans.
A TaqMan PCR was established for identification and quantitation of members of the Ehrlichia phagocytophila group in experimentally infected cows and in Ixodes ricinus ticks. The TaqMan PCR identified a 106-bp section of the 16S rRNA gene by use of a specific fluorogenic probe and two primers. This technique was specific for members of the E. phagocytophila group, which include E. phagocytophila, Ehrlichia equi, and the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis. The TaqMan system identified 10 copies of a cloned section of the 16S rRNA gene of E. phagocytophila. The sensitivity and specificity of the TaqMan PCR were similar to those of conventional nested PCR. The numbers of ehrlichiae in leukocytes of the two cows experimentally infected with E. phagocytophila were measured daily by TaqMan PCR and had a course similar to that of the percentages of infected leukocytes determined daily by light microscopy. The prevalence of infected free-living ticks, which were collected from areas where bovine ehrlichiosis is endemic and from regions with sporadic occurrences of granulocytic ehrlichiosis in dogs and horses, was identical as determined by nested PCR and TaqMan PCR.
Serum samples from 1,550 red foxes in Switzerland were tested for antibodies to the agents of canine granulocytic and monocytic ehrlichiosis by an indirect immunofluorescent technique. Forty-four (2.8%) of the samples were positive for Ehrlichia phagocytophila, which is an antigen marker for granulocytic ehrlichiosis. In contrast, none of the samples had antibodies specific to Ehrlichia canis, the agent of monocytic ehrlichiosis.
A total of 1,523 adult Ixodes ricinus ticks were collected from regions where bovine ehrlichiosis is endemic and were examined for Ehrlichia phagocytophila via PCR. Of the ticks from cattle with ehrlichiosis, the ticks from healthy cattle, and the free-living ticks, 26.5% (18 of 68), 4.4% (35 of 802), and 0.8% (5 of 653), respectively, were positive.
The purpose of this study was to examine the seasonal variations in seroprevalence to Ehrlichia phagocytophila in cattle pastured during the summer months in an area where tick-borne fever is endemic. The study was performed during a 1-year period from April 1996 to March 1997 and involved 34 cows, 22 pregnant heifers, and 14 calves. Blood samples, collected from all 70 cattle once a month, were used to determine serum immunoglobulin G titers by indirect immunofluorescence. In addition, blood smears were examined for Ehrlichia organisms, and PCR amplification was performed for the molecular detection of E. phagocytophila. Prior to the pasture period, the seroprevalence was 16%. Two weeks after the start of pasturing, it was 43%, after which it progressively increased and reached a maximum of 63% in September. The seroprevalence progressively decreased after the end of pasturing to a low of 23%. The variation in antibody titers was similar to that of seroprevalence. E. phagocytophila organisms were detected in blood smears of 7 animals and by nested PCR in 12. Only four cows, which were on the pastures of endemicity for the first time, had clinical signs of ehrlichiosis. This study demonstrated marked seasonal variations in seroprevalence and in serum titers of antibody to E. phagocytophila in cattle. The incidence of clinical signs of ehrlichiosis was increased in cattle grazing on the pastures of endemicity for the first time.