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Abortion in cattle

· Definition
· Incidence
· Diagnosis
· Causes
· Prevention

Definition of abortion in
cows
Abortion in the cow is defined as foetal death
and expulsion between day 45 and day 265 of
pregnancy.

Incidence
Most cattle herds suffer an abortion rate of 1-
2%. A single abortion, is thus no great cause for alarm.

· An annual abortion rate up to 5% is considered to be normal. This figure excludes most


abortions occurring during the second and third month of gestation as these often go
undetected.
· An abortion rate in excess of 10% is considered an abortion storm.

Diagnosis
The diagnosis of the cause of abortion is difficult and in only 20-30% of cases is a diagnosis
made.
Samples for diagnosis of abortion in cows
Efforts should be made to collect the complete fetoplacental unit and a sample of maternal
serum.

The placenta and foetus should be cleaned with water or saline, and chilled.

It is best to submit the whole calf and placenta to the laboratory for diagnosis. It is often more
convenient to perform the post mortem examination on the farm and collect only selected
organ/tissue samples for further laboratory examination.

Samples submitted to the lab should include these organs or sections of them:

· stomach or abomasal contents


· heart blood or fluid from a body cavity
· lung
· liver
· kidney
· spleen
· brain (especially in case of neosporosis suspicion)
· skeletal muscle
· placenta

Abortion caused by phytotoxins


Abortion may be caused by toxins (poisons) found in plants such as:

· Ponderosa pine needles


· Locoweed
· Broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia)
· Moldy sweet clover

Locoweed (Oxytropis or Astragalus sp) contains an indolizidine alkaloid that can affect the
corpus luteum, chorioallantois, and neurons, resulting in abortion or deformities.

Broomweed (Guttierrezia microcephala) ingestion can also cause abortion, as can coumarins
from rat poison, many grasses, or moldy sweet clover.
Abortion caused by mycotoxins
Mycotic (caused by mycotoxins) abortions may be seen in increased numbers in spring, due to
cattle consuming moldy feed contaminated with mycotoxins. These abortions are typically
sporadic and occur from four months to term. Severe infection of the placenta will be seen,
characterized by a leathery thickening of the areas in between the cotyledons. In about 25 per
cent of the cases, the fungus invades the foetus, and red or white ring-worm-like lesions can be
seen in the foetal skin.

Causes of abortion
1. Non-infectious causes
- genetic
- environmental: temperature
- nutritional: phytotoxins including mycotoxins
- iatrogenic: administration of abortifacient drugs
2. Infectious causes
- general infections with high fever
- specific infections such as brucellosis, BVD etc.

Infectious causes of abortion


Infectious factor Abortion Abortion Recurrence
Foetal lesions Samples
Common names rate timing of abortion
Bacterial
6-9 Placenta: retained,
Brucella abortus Up to 80% months cotyledons placenta, foetus, or
of necrotic, red- uterine discharge
Brucellosis unvaccinated Abortion Majority yellow,; area
animals or abort only between thickened Diagnosis: maternal
Bang’s disease infected in stillbirth once serology, IFAT for
1st or 2nd 2 wk to 5 Calf: normal or Abs in placenta,
Zoonosis trimester mo after autolytic with bacteria isolation
infection bronchopneumonia
Placenta: mild
Placenta, foetal
placentitis,
Uncommon, abomasal contents,
Campylobacter fetus hemorrhagic
convalescent vaginal flushing
venerealis 5-8 cotyledons and an
>10% cows
months edematous
resistant to Diagnosis:
Vibriosis intercotyledonary
infection microscopic
area.
detection, isolation
Infectious causes of abortion
Infectious factor Abortion Abortion Recurrence
Foetal lesions Samples
Common names rate timing of abortion
Foetus: fresh or
autolysed; mild
fibrinous pleuritis,
peritonitis,
bronchopneumonia.
Uncommon,
C fetus fetus convalescent
4-9
Sporadic cows See above See above
months
C jejuni resistant to
infection
Placenta: diffuse
Leptospira Last placentitis with
interrogans, trimester Immunity to avascular, light tan
Placenta, foetus
serovarsgrippotyphosa, the serotype cotyledons and
pomona, hardjo, Abortion causing edematous,
5-40% Diagnosis: IFAT foe
canicola, 2-5 abortion but yellowish
Abs or PCR testing
icterohaemorrhagiae weeks sensitive to intercotyledonary
forLeptospira
after other types areas
Zoonosis infection
Foetus: autolysed
Placenta:
endometritis and
diffuse placentitis,
Placenta, foetus
reddish brown to
Arcanobacterium brown colour.
Any Identification in
(Actinomyces) Sporadic Not known
stage bacterial culture
pyogenes Foetus: autolysed,
from placenta or
fibrinous
abomasal contents
pericarditis,
pleuritis, or
peritonitis
Dam: fever,
inappetance
Placenta, foetus
Listeria Usually Placenta: retained
monocytogenes sporadic but Last Identification in
May recur
can reach trimester Foetus: autolysed bacterial culture
Zoonosis 50% Fibrinous from placenta or
polyserositis and abomasal contents
white necrotic foci
in the liver and/or
Infectious causes of abortion
Infectious factor Abortion Abortion Recurrence
Foetal lesions Samples
Common names rate timing of abortion
cotyledons
Fungal
Placenta: severe,
necrotising
placentitis
Cotyledons
enlarged, necrotic,
4 months intercotyledonary Foetus, placenta
Aspergillus sp (60-
Usually to term area is thickened
80%
sporadic but and leathery. Diagnosis: isolation
May recur
can reach 5- most from the stomach
Mucor sp, Absidia,
10% common Foetus: contents, placenta,
orRhizopus sp
in winter autolysed~30% and skin lesions.
have gray
ringworm-like skin
lesions principally
involving the head
and shoulders
Protozoan
Placenta: retained,
mild placentitis Placenta, foetus,
with hemorrhagic vaginal/uterine
Animal cotyledons and discharge
Tritrichomonas
first half gains thickened
(Trichomonas) foetus
Sporadic of immunity intercotyledonary Diagnosis: detection
gestation but probably areas covered with in abomasal
Trichomoniasis
not life-long flocculent exudates contents, placental
fluids, and uterine
Foetus: no specific discharges
lesions
High in first Placenta, foetus
Placenta, foetus: no
gestation (brain, heart, liver,
specific gross
and when body fluids), serum
lesions, autolysed
infection Any samples from the
Decreases
Neospora caninum enters the stage, but dam
with parity Microscopic: focal
naïve herd most
but always encephalitis with
Neosporosis often 5-6 Diagnosis: detection
possible necrosis and
Up to 30% months of antigen in brain
nonsuppurative
first histology samples
inflammation,
outbreak
hepatitis in
Immunochemistry in
Infectious causes of abortion
Infectious factor Abortion Abortion Recurrence
Foetal lesions Samples
Common names rate timing of abortion
Enzootic: 5- tissue samples
10%
Abs - PCR, ELISA
Viral
Placenta, foetus
(preferred -spleen),
dam and herdmates
Complex
Placenta: retained, serum
pathology
Bovine Viral no specific lesions
Uncommon,
Diarrhoea Virus Diagnosis: isolation,
Usually low Abortion immunity
Foetus: no specific immunologic
usually develops
BVD-MD lesions, autolysed, staining, PCR, or
up to 4
mummified detection of
months
precolostral
antibodies in aborted
calves
In the majority of
Bovine Herpesvirus cases there are no
Placenta, foetus,
type I (BHV I) Possibly gross lesions in the
serum samples from
any stage placenta or foetus
5-60% the dam
Infectious Bovine but most
Uncommon,
rhinotracheitis virus common Placenta:
in non immunity Diagnosis:
(IBRV) necrotizing
vaccinated develops Immunochemistry in
from 4 vasculitis
herds samples from kidney
IBR months to
and adrenal glands,
term Foetus: autolysed,
blood serology, PCR
IBR-IPV foci of necrosis in
the liver
Placenta, foetus,
serum samples from
Blue tongue virus No specific
the dam
Usually low Variable Unlikely
Blue tongue Foetus: autolysed
Diagnosis: virus
isolation
Epizootic Bovine Can reach Placenta: No
Abortion 75% specific
Anamnesis
Usually
Foothill Abortion Limited in the last Unlikely Foetus:
Diagnosis: elevated
mainly to trimester hepatomegaly,
foetal Ig-G
etiologic agent has not California in splenomegaly, and
been definitively the US generalized
Infectious causes of abortion
Infectious factor Abortion Abortion Recurrence
Foetal lesions Samples
Common names rate timing of abortion
determined, lymphomegaly.
Microscopically -
vector – marked lymphoid
tickOrnithodoros hyperplasia in the
coriaceus spleen and lymph
nodes and
granulomatous
inflammation in
most organs.
Factors not typical for cattle or rarely occurring
Placenta:
Placenta, foetus
placentitis,
Diagnosis:
Chlamydophila thickening and
identification in
abortus (Chlamydia yellow-brown
stained smears of
psittaciserotype 1) Near the exudate adhered to
the placenta or by
end of the the cotyledons and
Sporadic Unlikely ELISA, fluorescent
enzootic abortion of last intercotyledonary
antibody staining,
ewes trimester areas. Foetus:
PCR, or isolation in
fresh, minimal
embryonated
Zoonosis autolysis,
chicken eggs or cell
pneumonia,
culture.
hepatitis
Placenta: retained,
intercotyledonary Placenta, foetus
Usually areas thickened,
sporadic, but Third nonsuppurative Diagnosis: isolation
Ureaplasma diversum Possible
outbreaks trimester placentitis from the placenta,
possible lungs, and/or
Foetus: no gross abomasal contents
lesions, pneumonia
Usually Cows: clinically ill Placenta, foetus
sporadic but
can take Any Placenta and Diagnosis: isolation
Salmonella spp Possible
form of an stage foetus: autolysed from the abomasal
abortion and contents other
storm emphysematous. tissues.

Prevention of abortions
1. Proper hygienic and biosecurity measures in the cow's environment and feed storage
2. Isolation of aborting cows and immediate removal of aborted materials
3. Systematic evaluation of the feed for mycotoxins and other phytotoxins
4. Adequate immunization against infectious diseases causing abortion
5. Maintenance of adequate breeding and treatment records to avoid insemination of
pregnant cows and administration of drugs that may cause abortion to pregnant cows.

Prepared By:

Muhammad Farrukh Hafeez

Farrukh097@gmail.com