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1.  Consequences of hazardous dietary calcium deficiency for fattening bulls 
Background
Deficient mineral supplementation on a feedlot farm resulted in severe clinical manifestations in fattening bulls. Animals mistakenly received only 60–70% of the recommended calcium intake, while simultaneously receiving twice the amount of phosphorus recommended. Thus, the dietary Ca/P ratio was severely distorted. After approximately six months on such a diet, four fattening bulls were euthanized because of severe lameness and 15% of other animals on the farm were having clinical leg problems. Veterinary consultation revealed the mistake in mineral supplementation.
Methods
Fattening bulls were divided into three groups depending on the time of their arrival to the farm. This enabled the effect of mineral imbalance at different growth phases to be examined. After slaughtering, the bones of both front and hind limbs were macroscopically evaluated.
Results
Over 80% of the animals with a calcium-deficient diet had at least one severe osteoarthritic lesion. The economic impact of the calcium deficiency was statistically significant.
Conclusion
Calcium deficiency with distorted Ca/P ratio yielded a severe outbreak of osteoarthritis in fattening bulls. Calcium deficiency caused a more serious lesions in age group 5–12 months than age group 12–18 months. Besides causing obvious economic losses osteoarthritis is also a welfare issue for feedlot animals.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-25
PMCID: PMC1762008  PMID: 17156437
2.  Resistance to penicillin of Staphylococcus aureus isolates from cows with high somatic cell counts in organic and conventional dairy herds in Denmark 
Background
Quarter milk samples from cows with high risk of intramammary infection were examined to determine the prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus (SA) and penicillin resistant SA (SAr) in conventional and organic dairy herds and herds converting to organic farming in a combined longitudinal and cross-sectional study.
Methods
20 conventional herds, 18 organic herds that converted before 1995, and 19 herds converting to organic farming in 1999 or 2000 were included in the study. Herds converting to organic farming were sampled three times one year apart; the other herds were sampled once. Risk of infection was estimated based on somatic cell count, milk production, breed, age and lactation stage.
Results
The high-risk cows represented about 49 % of the cows in the herds. The overall prevalence of SA and SAr among these cows was 29% (95% confidence interval: 24%–34%) and 4% (95% confidence interval: 2%–5%) respectively. The prevalence of penicillin resistance among SA infected cows was 12% (95% confidence interval: 6%–19%) when calculated from the first herd visits. No statistically significant differences were observed in the prevalence of SAr or the proportion of isolates resistant to penicillin between herd groups.
Conclusion
The proportion of isolates resistant to penicillin was low compared to studies in other countries except Norway and Sweden. Based on the low prevalence of penicillin resistance of SA, penicillin should still be the first choice of antimicrobial agent for treatment of bovine intramammary infection in Denmark.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-24
PMCID: PMC1687190  PMID: 17125515
3.  Clinical features and hormonal profiles of cloprostenol-induced early abortions in heifers monitored by ultrasonography 
Background
The present study describes the clinical features and plasma profiles of bovine pregnancy-associated glycoprotein 1 (bPAG1), the main metabolite of prostaglandin F2α (PG metabolite) and progesterone (P4) in heifers in which early abortions were induced.
Methods
Early abortions were induced in four heifers with cloprostenol and monitored by ultrasonography. Blood samples were collected and the plasma were analyzed for bPAG 1, P4 and PG metabolite.
Results
The foetal heartbeat rates varied from 170–186 beats per minute for all foetuses up to the date of cloprostenol treatment. Foetal death was confirmed within two days after cloprostenol treatment. Prior to cloprostenol injection, blood plasma concentrations of bPAG1, PG metabolite and P4 varied from 8.4 – 40.0 ng/mL, 158 – 275 pmol/L and 20.7 – 46.9 nmol/L, respectively. After the foetus expelled, the plasma level of bPAG1 began to decrease but the decrease was small and gradual. The estimated half-life of bPAG1 was 1.8 – 6.6 days. The plasma level of the PG metabolite started to have short lasting peaks (above 300 pmol/L) within three hours after cloprostenol treatment. The plasma concentrations of P4 dropped sharply to less than 4 nmol/L after 24 hours of cloprostenol injection.
Conclusion
The current findings indicated that after early closprostenol-induced foetal death, the plasma concentration of bPAG1 decreased gradually and showed a tendency of variation with the stages of pregnancy.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-23
PMCID: PMC1676008  PMID: 17121683
4.  A study of bovine mastitis, milking procedures and management practices on 25 Estonian dairy herds 
Background
Mastitis prevalence, milking procedures and management practices were investigated in 25 big dairy herds supplying milk to an Estonian dairy company. The aim of the study was to provide information for the company to be used in their new udder health improvement program to be set up after the completion of this study.
Methods
Quarter milk samples were collected from 3,166 cows for bacterial analysis and SCC (somatic cell counting). During the farm visit the veterinarian filled in a questionnaire about milking procedures and management practices with the help of farm managers. If the milk SCC of a cow or of a quarter exceeded 200,000/ml, the cow was defined as having mastitis.
Results
The percentage of cows having inflammation in one or more quarters measured by SCC (200,000/ml) was 52.7%. Corynebacterium bovis, Staphylococcus aureus and coagulase negative staphylococci were the most common bacterial isolates. Women as farm owners, and participating in the milking, were associated with lower mastitis prevalence on the farm. Peat bedding was associated with higher mastitis prevalence.
Conclusion
We demonstrated relatively high mastitis prevalence in this study. Contagious bacteria (eg. S. aureus, C. bovis, S. agalactiae and coagulase negative staphylococci) caused most of the infections. These infections are usually spread from cow to cow at milking if the milking hygiene is not good enough. The mastitis situation could be improved by improving milking procedures and hygiene.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-22
PMCID: PMC1664578  PMID: 17118211
5.  Occurrence of clinical mastitis in primiparous Estonian dairy cows in different housing conditions 
Background
Objectives of the study were to document the impact of some management factors on the occurrence of clinical mastitis in primiparous dairy cows and to identify common udder pathogens of clinical mastitis in freshly calved heifers and multiparous cows on the day of calving.
Methods
A one-year study was conducted during 2004 and 2005 in 11 selected Estonian dairy herds. Data consisted of 68 heifers with clinical mastitis and 995 heifers without clinical mastitis on the day of calving. Multivariable logistic regression with a random herd effect was used to investigate any association between housing system or the time interval from movement of heifers to the calving facility and day of calving on occurrence of clinical mastitis. Milk samples for bacteriological analysis were collected from affected heifers and multiparous cows on the day of calving
Results
Clinical mastitis occurrence in the study population of freshly calved heifers equalled 6.1 %. Housing system was not a significant risk factor for clinical mastitis of freshly calved heifers.
Moving heifers to the cowbarn less than two weeks before calving in tiestall farms increased risk (OR = 5.9 p = 0.001) for clinical mastitis at parturition. The most frequently isolated udder pathogens among heifers were Escherichia coli (22.1%), Streptococcus uberis (19.1%) and coagulase-negative staphylococci (8.8%). In comparison, the main pathogen in multiparous cows with clinical mastitis at parturition was Staphylococcus aureus (11.2%).
Conclusion
Moving heifers to the calving facilities too late in tiestall farms increased risk for clinical mastitis at parturition. The isolated udder pathogens did not differ significantly in tiestall farms compared to freestall farms in heifers, but differences were found between heifers and multiparous cows at parturition.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-21
PMCID: PMC1687189  PMID: 17118174
6.  The conceptualisation of health and disease in veterinary medicine 
Background
The concept of health, as well as the concept of disease, is central in veterinary medicine. However, the definitions "health" and "disease" are not generally acknowledged by veterinarians. The aim of this study was to examine how the concepts "health" and "disease" are defined in veterinary textbooks.
Methods
Veterinary textbooks in several disciplines were investigated, but only textbooks with explicit definitions of the concepts were selected for examination.
Results
Eighty out of the 500 relevant books within veterinary medicine were written for non-veterinarians. Eight percent of the books had an explicit definition of health and/or disease. More frequently, textbooks written for non veterinarians did have definitions of health or disease, compared to textbooks written for professionals. A division of health definitions in five different categories was suggested, namely:
1. Health as normality, 2. Health as biological function, 3. Health as homeostasis, 4. Health as physical and psychological well-being and 5. Health as productivity including reproduction.
Conclusion
Few veterinary textbooks had any health or disease definition at all. Furthermore, explicit definitions of health stated by the authors seemed to have little impact on how health and disease are handled within the profession. Veterinary medicine would probably gain from theoretical discussions about health and disease.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-47-71
PMCID: PMC1635697  PMID: 17090301
7.  The conceptualisation of health and disease in veterinary medicine 
Background
The concept of health, as well as the concept of disease, is central in veterinary medicine. However, the definitions "health" and "disease" are not generally acknowledged by veterinarians. The aim of this study was to examine how the concepts "health" and "disease" are defined in veterinary textbooks.
Methods
Veterinary textbooks in several disciplines were investigated, but only textbooks with explicit definitions of the concepts were selected for examination.
Results
Eighty out of the 500 relevant books within veterinary medicine were written for non-veterinarians. Eight percent of the books had an explicit definition of health and/or disease. More frequently, textbooks written for non veterinarians did have definitions of health or disease, compared to textbooks written for professionals. A division of health definitions in five different categories was suggested, namely:
1. Health as normality, 2. Health as biological function, 3. Health as homeostasis, 4. Health as physical and psychological well-being and 5. Health as productivity including reproduction.
Conclusion
Few veterinary textbooks had any health or disease definition at all. Furthermore, explicit definitions of health stated by the authors seemed to have little impact on how health and disease are handled within the profession. Veterinary medicine would probably gain from theoretical discussions about health and disease.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-20
PMCID: PMC1949874
8.  Occurrence of haemolytic Mannheimia spp. in apparently healthy sheep in Norway 
Background
The occurrence of Mannheimia species in healthy sheep has only been investigated to a very limited extend since the genus and its five named species were established. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the occurrence of haemolytic Mannheimia species in apparently healthy sheep originating from four sheep flocks in South-Western Norway.
Methods
Typical β-haemolytic Pasteurellaceae were isolated from nasal swabs and subsequently subjected to bacteriological examination. A total of 57 Mannheimia isolates were obtained in pure culture. All isolates were genotyped by amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP) analysis and compared to six reference strains. The 16S rRNA gene sequences of two isolates were also determined.
Results
β-haemolytic Mannheimia species were isolated from 24% to 64% of the sheep in the four flocks. A total of 26 haemolytic M. ruminalis-like strains were isolated among which, a considerable genetic diversity was found. Eighteen M. glucosida isolates were obtained from three flocks, whereas M. haemolytica was only isolated from two flocks, 16 of them being from only one of the flocks.
Conclusion
We demonstrate that a relatively high number of apparently healthy sheep in Norway seem to carry the potentially pathogenic M. haemolytica and M. glucosida in the upper respiratory tract. An unexpectedly high number of haemolytic M. ruminalis-like organisms were also obtained in all four flocks. The usually non-haemolytic M. ruminalis are typically isolated from healthy ruminants. The significance of β-haemolytic M. ruminalis-like organisms is unknown and should be investigated in a future study.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-47-70
PMCID: PMC1635413  PMID: 17076903
9.  Occurrence of haemolytic Mannheimia spp. in apparently healthy sheep in Norway 
Background
The occurrence of Mannheimia species in healthy sheep has only been investigated to a very limited extend since the genus and its five named species were established. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the occurrence of haemolytic Mannheimia species in apparently healthy sheep originating from four sheep flocks in South-Western Norway.
Methods
Typical β-haemolytic Pasteurellaceae were isolated from nasal swabs and subsequently subjected to bacteriological examination. A total of 57 Mannheimia isolates were obtained in pure culture. All isolates were genotyped by amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP) analysis and compared to six reference strains. The 16S rRNA gene sequences of two isolates were also determined.
Results
β-haemolytic Mannheimia species were isolated from 24% to 64% of the sheep in the four flocks. A total of 26 haemolytic M. ruminalis-like strains were isolated among which, a considerable genetic diversity was found. Eighteen M. glucosida isolates were obtained from three flocks, whereas M. haemolytica was only isolated from two flocks, 16 of them being from only one of the flocks.
Conclusion
We demonstrate that a relatively high number of apparently healthy sheep in Norway seem to carry the potentially pathogenic M. haemolytica and M. glucosida in the upper respiratory tract. An unexpectedly high number of haemolytic M. ruminalis-like organisms were also obtained in all four flocks. The usually non-haemolytic M. ruminalis are typically isolated from healthy ruminants. The significance of β-haemolytic M. ruminalis-like organisms is unknown and should be investigated in a future study.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-19
PMCID: PMC1949873
10.  Pelodera (syn. Rhabditis) strongyloides as a cause of dermatitis – a report of 11 dogs from Finland 
Background
Pelodera (Rhabditis) strongyloides is a small saprophytic nematode that lives in decaying organic matter. On rare occasions, it can invade the mammalian skin, causing a pruritic, erythematous, alopecic and crusting dermatitis on skin sites that come into contact with the ground. Diagnosis of the disease is based on case history (a dog living outdoors on damp straw bedding) with characteristic skin lesions and on the demonstration of typical larvae in skin scrapings or biopsy. Pelodera (rhabditic) dermatitis cases have been reported mainly from Central European countries and the United States.
Case presentation
During 1975–1999, we verified 11 canine cases of Pelodera dermatitis in Finland. The cases were confirmed by identifying Pelodera larvae in scrapings. Biopsies for histopathology were obtained from three cases, and typical histopathological lesions (epidermal hyperplasia, epidermal and follicular hyperkeratosis, folliculitis and furunculosis with large numbers of nematode larvae of 25–40 μm of diameter within hair follicles) were present. The Pelodera strongyloides dermatitica strain from the first verified case in Finland has been maintained in ordinary blood agar in our laboratory since 1975. Light microscopy (LM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies were employed to obtain detailed morphological information about the causative agent. The rhabditiform oesophagus at all developmental stages, the morphology of the anterior end of the nematode, copulatory bursa and spicules of the male and the tail of the female were the most important morphological features for identifying P. strongyloides.
Conclusion
These cases show that Pelodera dermatitis occurs in Finland, and also farther north than described earlier in the literature. This condition should be considered when a dog living outdoors has typical skin lesions situated at sites in contact with the ground as the main presenting clinical feature. The fastest and easiest way to confirm the diagnosis is to demonstrate typical larvae in skin scrapings. In uncertain cases, skin biopsy and culturing of the worms are recommended as supplementary diagnostic procedures.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-18
PMCID: PMC1569853  PMID: 16987397
11.  Impact of coccidial infection on vaccine- and vvIBDV in lymphoid tissues of SPF chickens as detected by RT-PCR 
Background
This study aimed at investigating a potential effect caused by coccidia on the immune response to vaccine- and very virulent infectious bursal disase virus (vvIBDV) in SPF chickens.
Methods
Two groups of three weeks old SPF chickens were vaccinated prior to inoculation with coccidia and challenge with virulent IBDV, all within a period of eight days. Two control groups were similarly treated, except that challenge with field virus was omitted in one group while inoculation with coccidia was omitted in the other group. Clinical signs, lesions in the intestines caused by coccidia, lesions in the bursa of Fabricius caused by IBDV, IBDV-antibody titres, and virus detection by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) were compared among the groups. Lymphoid tissues and swab samples were analysed by general RT-PCR, and positive results were identified by strain specific duplex (DPX) RT-PCR.
Results
In the tripple-infected groups, vaccine strain IBDV was detected in spleen and thymus tissues, and no field virus was detected in bursa samples, contrary to the double-infected groups.
Conclusion
The results suggest an enhancing effect on the immune response caused by subclinical coccidiosis and vvIBDV acting in concert.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-17
PMCID: PMC1570469  PMID: 16987396
12.  Iron and iron/manganese ratio in forage from Icelandic sheep farms: relation to scrapie 
This study was undertaken in order to examine whether any connection existed between the amounts of iron in forage and the sporadic occurrence of scrapie observed in certain parts of Iceland. As iron and manganese are considered antagonistic in plants, calculation of the Fe/Mn ratios was also included by using results from Mn determination earlier performed in the same samples. Forage samples (n = 170) from the summer harvests of 2001–2003, were collected from 47 farms for iron and manganese analysis. The farms were divided into four categories: 1. Scrapie-free farms in scrapie-free areas (n = 9); 2. Scrapie-free farms in scrapie-afflicted areas (n = 17); 3. Scrapie-prone farms (earlier scrapie-afflicted, restocked farms) (n = 12); 4. Scrapie-afflicted farms (n = 9). Farms in categories 1 and 2 are collectively referred to as scrapie-free farms. The mean iron concentration in forage samples from scrapie-afflicted farms was significantly higher than in forage samples from farms in the other scrapie categories (P = 0.001). The mean Fe/Mn ratio in forage from scrapie-afflicted farms was significantly higher than in forage from scrapie-free and scrapie-prone farms (P < 0.001). The results indicated relative dominance of iron over manganese in forage from scrapie-afflicted farms as compared to farms in the other categories. Thus thorough knowledge of iron, along with manganese, in soil and vegetation on sheep farms could be a pivot in studies on sporadic scrapie.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-16
PMCID: PMC1569367  PMID: 16987395
13.  Contributions to variability of clinical measures for use as indicators of udder health status in a clinical protocol 
A cross-sectional observational study with repeated observations was conducted on 16 Danish dairy farms to quantify the influence of observer, parity, time (stage in lactation) and farm on variables routinely selected for inclusion in clinical protocols, thereby to enable a more valid comparison of udder health between different herds. During 12 months, participating herds were visited 5 times by project technicians, who examined 20 cows and scored the selected clinical variables. The estimates of effect on variables were derived from a random regression model procedure. Statistical analyses revealed that, although estimates for occurrence of several the variables, e.g. degree of oedema, varied significantly between observers, the effects on many of these estimates were similar in size. Almost all estimates for occurrences of variables were significantly affected either parity and lactation stage, or by both e.g. udder tissue consistency. Some variables, e.g. mange, had high estimates for the farm component, and others e.g. teat skin quality had a high individual component. Several of the variables, e.g. wounds on warts, had a high residual component indicating that a there still was a major part of the variation in data, which was unexplained. It was concluded that most of the variables were relevant for implementation in herd health management, but that adjustments need to be made to improve reliability.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-15
PMCID: PMC1569854  PMID: 16987394
14.  Fertility of frozen-thawed stallion semen cannot be predicted by the currently used laboratory methods 
The aim of the project was to use current simple and practical laboratory tests and compare results with the foaling rates of mares inseminated with commercially produced frozen semen. In Exp. 1, semen was tested from 27 and in Exp. 2 from 23 stallions; 19 stallions participated in both experiments. The mean number of mares per stallion in both experiments was 37 (min. 7, max. 121). Sperm morphology was assessed and bacterial culture performed once per stallion. In Exp. 1, progressive motility after 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 h of incubation using light microscopy, motility characteristics measured with an automatic sperm analyzer, plasma membrane integrity using carboxyfluorescein diacetate/propidium iodide (CFDA/PI) staining and light microscopy, plasma membrane integrity using PI staining and a fluorometer, plasma membrane integrity using a resazurin reduction test, and sperm concentration were evaluated. In Exp. 2, the same tests as in Exp. 1 and a hypo-osmotic swelling test (HOST) using both light microscopy and a fluorometer were performed immediately after thawing and after a 3-h incubation. Statistical analysis was done separately to all stallions and to those having ≥ 20 mares; in addition, stallions with foaling rates < 60 or ≥ 60% were compared. In Exp. 1, progressive motility for all stallions after a 2 – 4-h incubation correlated with the foaling rate (correlation coefficients 0.39 – 0.51), (p < 0.05). In stallions with > 20 mares, the artificial insemination dose showed a correlation coefficient of -0.58 (p < 0.05). In Exp. 2, the HOST immediately after thawing showed a negative correlation with foaling rate (p < 0.05). No single test was consistently reliable for predicting the fertilizing capacity of semen, since the 2 experiments yielded conflicting results, although the same stallions sometimes participated in both. This shows the difficulty of frozen semen quality control in commercially produced stallion semen, and on the other hand, the difficulty of conducting fertility trials in horses.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-14
PMCID: PMC1564023  PMID: 16987393
16.  Physiological routes from intra-uterine seminal contents to advancement of ovulation 
Whole boar semen or seminal plasma has been demonstrated to advance the time of ovulation in gilts. As a means of clarifying this influence, the contribution of uterine lymphatics and their white cell populations has been examined. After duct visualisation with Evan's blue, lymph was sampled from a mesometrial vessel in eight pre-ovulatory gilts whose uterine lumen was infused simultaneously with whole semen in one ligated horn and saline in the contralateral ligated horn. Lymph was collected from cannulated vessels for periods of up to four hours under general anaesthesia. Thereafter, mesometrial lymph nodes, utero-tubal junction and uterine wall tissues were sampled. The proportion of nucleated cells in the sampled lymph increased towards the end of the collection period, but erythrocytes were found in all instances preventing a meaningful differentiation and identification of leukocytes. Prominent uterine lymph nodes were present in the mesometrium on both sides of the reproductive tract in 7 of 10 gilts. Differences in cellular contents were demonstrated between the side of the tract infused with semen and that infused with saline control. Two of 4 gilts had lower values for CD4 (Cluster Differentiation) and 3 of 6 gilts higher values for MHC II (Major Histocompatibility Complex) markers on the side challenged with semen. In contrast, values remained constant for CD8 but ranged widely for CD18. Immunohistochemical analysis of uterine tissue samples for MHC II+ cells revealed significant differences (P < 0.05) between the control and semen-treated ligated portions of the horns, as well as between the tissue sample of uterine wall and that from the utero-tubal junction, but there were no significant differences for CD4+ cells. It therefore remains plausible that semen-induced cytokines in the uterine lymph undergo counter-current transfer to the ipsilateral ovary and accelerate the final maturation of pre-ovulatory Graafian follicles.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-13
PMCID: PMC1557517  PMID: 16987392
17.  A preliminary study on the induction of dioestrous ovulation in the mare – a possible method for inducing prolonged luteal phase 
Background
Strong oestrous symptoms in the mare can cause problems with racing, training and handling. Since long-acting progesterone treatment is not permitted in mares at competition (e.g. according to FEI rules), there is a need for methods to suppress unwanted cyclicity. Spontaneous dioestrous ovulations in the late luteal phase may cause a prolongation of the luteal phase in mares.
Methods
In this preliminary study, in an attempt to induce ovulation during the luteal phase, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (3000 IU) was injected intramuscularly in four mares (experimental group) in the luteal phase when a dioestrous follicle ≥ 30 mm was detected. A fifth mare included in this group was not treated due to no detectable dioestrous follicles ≥ 30 mm. Four control mares were similarly injected with saline. The mares were followed with ultrasound for 72 hours post injection or until ovulation. Blood samples for progesterone analysis were obtained twice weekly for one month and thereafter once weekly for another two to four months.
Results
Three of the hCG-treated mares ovulated within 72 hours after treatment and developed prolonged luteal phases of 58, 68 and 82 days respectively. One treated mare never ovulated after the hCG injection and progesterone levels fell below 3 nmol/l nine days post treatment. Progesterone levels in the control mares were below 3 nmol/l within nine days after saline injection, except for one mare, which developed a spontaneously prolonged luteal phase of 72 days.
Conclusion
HCG treatment may be a method to induce prolonged luteal phases in the mare provided there is a dioestrous follicle ≥ 30 mm that ovulates post-treatment. However, the method needs to be tested on a larger number of mares to be able to draw conclusions regarding its effectiveness.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-12
PMCID: PMC1557516  PMID: 16987391
18.  Mastitis and related management factors in certified organic dairy herds in Sweden 
Background
Mastitis is one of the major threats to animal health, in organic farming as well as conventional. Preliminary studies of organic dairy herds have indicated better udder health in such herds, as compared to conventional herds. The aim of this paper was to further study mastitis and management related factors in certified organic dairy herds.
Methods
An observational study of 26 certified organic dairy herds in mid-eastern Sweden was conducted during one year. A large-animal practitioner visited the herds three times and clinically examined and sampled cows, and collected information about general health and management routines. Data on milk production and disorders treated by a veterinarian in the 26 herds, as well as in 1102 conventional herds, were retrieved from official records. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess associations between herd type (organic vs. conventional) and incidence of disorders.
Results
The organic herds that took part in the study ranged in size from 12 to 64 cows, in milk production from 3772 to 10334 kg per cow and year, and in bulk milk somatic cell counts from 83000 to 280000 cells/ml. The organic herds were found to have a lower incidence of clinical mastitis, teat injuries, and a lower proportion of cows with a high somatic cell count (as indicated by the UDS, Udder Disease Score) compared to conventional herds. The spectrum of udder pathogenic bacteria was similar to that found in other Swedish studies. Treatment of mastitis was found to be similar to what is practised in conventional herds. Homeopathic remedies were not widely used in the treatment of clinical mastitis.
The calves in most of these organic herds suckled their dams for only a few days, which were not considered to substantially affect the udder health. The main management factor that was different from conventional herds was the feeding strategy, where organic herds used a larger share of forage.
Conclusion
Udder health in Swedish organic herds appears to be better than in conventional herds of comparable size and production. The major difference in management between the two types of farms is the proportion of concentrates fed. The mechanisms explaining the association between intensity of feeding and udder health in dairy cows require further research.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-11
PMCID: PMC1553465  PMID: 16987390
19.  Persistence of antibodies in blood and body fluids in decaying fox carcasses, as exemplified by antibodies against Microsporum canis 
To assist in evaluating serological test results from dead animals, 10 silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and 10 blue foxes (Alopex lagopus), 6 of each species previously vaccinated against and all challenged with Microsporum canis, were blood sampled and euthanased. Fox carcasses were stored at +10°C, and autopsy was performed on Days 0, 2, 4, 7, and 11 post mortem during which samples from blood and/or body fluid from the thoracic cavity were collected. Antibodies against M. canis were measured in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) as absorbance values (optical density; OD). To assess the degradation of antibodies, the ratio between post mortem and ante mortem absorbance was calculated. The mean absorbance from samples collected during autopsy was generally lower than from samples from live animals. In blood samples, this difference increased significantly with time (P = 0.04), while in body fluid samples the difference decreased (not significant; P = 0.18). We suggest that a positive serological result from testing blood or body fluid of a dead animal may be regarded as valuable, although specific prevalences obtained by screening populations based on this type of material may represent an under-estimation of the true antibody prevalence. Negative serological test results based on material from carcasses may be less conclusive, taken into account the general degradation processes in decaying carcasses, also involving immunoglobulin proteins.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-10
PMCID: PMC1553463  PMID: 16987389
20.  Use of serum C-reactive protein as an early marker of inflammatory activity in canine type II immune-mediated polyarthritis: case report 
Background
Monitoring systemic inflammatory activity during steroid therapy of canine immune-mediated polyarthritis (IMPA) is difficult and mainly relies on clinical signs.
Case presentation
Canine serum C-reactive protein (CRP) was measured serially and blinded during a 27-week follow-up period of a case of Anaplasma phagocytophilia induced type II immune-mediated polyarthritis.
Conclusion
WBC was, as expected, observed not to reflect the inflammatory activity during steroid treatment in a clinical useful manner, whereas, CRP is suggested a valuable unbiased marker of inflammatory activity during steroid treatment in this case.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-9
PMCID: PMC1553462  PMID: 16987405
21.  Canine atopic dermatitis: validation of recorded diagnosis against practice records in 335 insured Swedish dogs 
A cross-sectional study of insured Swedish dogs with a recorded diagnosis of canine atopic dermatitis (CAD) was performed. In order to validate the correctness of this specific diagnosis in the insurance database, medical records were requested by mail from the attending veterinarians. All dogs with a reimbursed claim for the disease during 2002 were included in the original study sample (n = 373). Medical records were available for 335 individuals (response rate: 89.8%). By scrutinizing the submitted records it was determined that all dogs had been treated for dermatologic disease, and that 327 (97.6%) could be considered to have some allergic skin disease. However, as information regarding dietary trial testing was missing in many dogs the number that were truly atopic could not be determined. The clinical presentation and nature of test diet for dogs with or without response to dietary trial testing was compared for a subset of 109 individuals that had undergone such testing. The only significant difference between these two groups was that the proportion of dogs with reported gastrointestinal signs was higher in the group that subsequently responded to a diet trial. In conclusion, the agreement between the recorded diagnosis in the insurance database and the clinical manifestations recorded in the submitted medical records was considered acceptable. The concern was raised that many attending veterinarians did not exclude cutaneous adverse food reactions before making the diagnosis of CAD.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-8
PMCID: PMC1553461  PMID: 16987404
22.  Campylobacter spp., Enterococcus spp., Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Yersinia spp., and Cryptosporidium oocysts in semi-domesticated reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) in Northern Finland and Norway 
The specific aim of this study was to assess the faecal shedding of zoonotic enteropathogens by semi-domesticated reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) to deduce the potential risk to human health through modern reindeer herding. In total, 2,243 faecal samples of reindeer from northern regions of Finland and Norway were examined for potentially enteropathogenic bacteria (Campylobacter species, Enterococcus species, Escherichia coli, Salmonella species and Yersinia species) and parasites (Cryptosporidium species) in accordance with standard procedures. Escherichia coli were isolated in 94.7%, Enterococcus species in 92.9%, Yersinia species in 4.8% of the samples and Campylobacter species in one sample only (0.04%). Analysis for virulence factors in E. coli and Yersinia species revealed no pathogenic strains. Neither Salmonella species nor Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected. The public health risk due to reindeer husbandry concerning zoonotic diseases included in this study has to be considered as very low at present but a putative epidemiological threat may arise when herding conditions are changed with respect to intensification and crowding.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-7
PMCID: PMC1563470  PMID: 16987403
23.  The first report of Aelurostrongylus falciformis in Norwegian badgers (Meles meles) 
The first report of Aelurostrongylus falciformis (Schlegel 1933) in Fennoscandian badgers is described. Routine parasitological examination of nine Norwegian badgers, at the National Veterinary Institute during 2004 and 2005, identified A. falciformis in the terminal airways of five of the animals. The first stage larvae (L1) closely resembled, in size and morphology, those of Angiostrongylus vasorum (Baillet 1866). The diagnosis for both A. falciformis and A. vasorum is frequently based on the identification of L1 in faeces or sputum. The potential for misclassification of an A. falciformis infection as A. vasorum, where larval identification is the only diagnostic method used, is discussed.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-6
PMCID: PMC1553464  PMID: 16987402
24.  Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and thioredoxin are differentially expressed along the reproductive tract of the ewe during the oestrous cycle and after ovariectomy 
Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and thioredoxin are regulated by gonadal steroids in the female reproductive tract of many species. Oestradiol regulates IGF-I and thioredoxin mRNA levels in the reproductive tract of prepubertal lambs. The physiological status (different endocrine environment) may affect the sensitivity of the reproductive tract to oestradiol and progesterone. We studied the effects of different endocrine milieus (late-follicular and luteal phases of the oestrous cycle, and ovariectomy before or after puberty) on the expression of IGF-I, thioredoxin, oestrogen receptor α (ERα) and progesterone receptor (PR) in sheep. The mRNA levels were determined by a solution hybridisation technique. In the uterus the levels of ERα, PR and thioredoxin mRNA were higher in the late-follicular phase group than in the other three groups, and IGF-I mRNA was high during both the late-follicular and the luteal phases. In the cervix only PR mRNA was significantly higher in the ewes in the late-follicular phase than in the other groups. In the oviducts the levels of thioredoxin and ERα mRNA were highest in the ovariectomised adult ewes, and thioredoxin mRNA was higher than the levels found in the ewes in the late-follicular phase. The IGF-I mRNA levels in the oviduct did not differ between any of the groups. The transcripts of IGF-I, thioredoxin, ERα and PR, varied according to the physiological status and also along the female reproductive tract, suggesting that the regulation of the mRNA levels of these factors by the steroid environment is tissue specific.
Koncentrationen av insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) och thioredoxin regleras hos många arter i honors reproduktionsorgan av könssteroider. Sålunda reglerar östradiol IGF-I och thioredoxin mRNA i reproduktionsorganen hos prepubertala lamm. Djurets fysiologiska status (dvs den endokrina miljön) kan påverka känsligheten hos reproduktionsorganen för östradiol och progesteron. Vi studerade effekterna av olika endokrina miljöer (sen follikelfas och lutealfas i östruscykeln, samt ovariektomi före och efter puberteten) på uttrycket av IGF-I, thioredoxin, östrogenreceptor α (ERα) och progesteronreceptorn (PR) hos får. Lösningshybridisering användes för att bestämma mRNA nivåerna. I livmodern var mRNA koncentrationen för ERα, PR och thioredoxin högre i sen follikelfas än i de andra tre grupperna och IGF-I mRNA nivån var hög både under sen follikelfas och i lutealfas. PR mRNA i cervix var signifikant högre hos tackorna under sen follikelfas än i de andra grupperna. I äggledarna var mRNA nivåerna av thioredoxin och ERα högst i de djur som ovariektomerats som vuxna, och thioredoxin mRNA var högre än hos tackorna under sen follikelfas. Det förelåg ingen skillnad vad gäller IGF-I mRNA nivåerna i äggledaren mellan någon av grupperna. IGF-I, thioredoxin, ERα och PR mRNA nivåerna varierade beroende på fysiologisk status och morfologisk lokalisation i reproduktionsorganen. Detta tyder på att steroidhormonernas reglering av dessa faktorers mRNA uttryck också är vävnadsspecifik.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-5
PMCID: PMC1553459  PMID: 16987401
25.  Intestinal carriage of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli among cattle from South-western Norway and comparative genotyping of bovine and human isolates by amplified-fragment length polymorphism 
In a survey conducted in 1999–2001, the carriage of thermotolerant Campylobacters in cattle was investigated, and the genetic diversity of C. jejuni within one herd was examined and compared with human isolates. C. jejuni, C. coli and other thermotolerant Campylobacter spp. were isolated from intestinal contents from 26%, 3% and 2% of 804 cattle, respectively. The carriage rate was higher in calves (46%) than in adults (29%). Twenty-nine C. jejuni isolates from one herd and 31 human isolates from the study area were genotyped with amplified-fragment length polymorphism (AFLP). Eighty-three % of the bovine isolates fell into three distinct clusters with 95–100% similarity, persistent in the herd for 5–10 months. Among human isolates, 58% showed >90% similarity with bovine isolates. The results show that cattle are a significant and stable reservoir for C. jejuni in the study area. Transmission between individuals within the herd may be sufficient to maintain a steady C. jejuni population independent of environmental influx. The results of this study have provided new information on C. jejuni and C. coli transmission, and also on the carriage in cattle, genotypes stability and similarity between bovine and human isolates.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-48-4
PMCID: PMC1553460  PMID: 16987400

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