Bacteriological culture of blood from critically ill neonatal calves

Gilles Fecteau, David C. Van Metre, Julie Paré, Bradford Smith, Robert Higgins, Charles A. Holmberg, Spencer Jang, Walter Guterbock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The objectives of this study were to estimate the prevalence of bacteremia in critically ill, neonatal calves with severe 'diarrhea or depression, and to describe the variety of bacteria involved. Two studies were conducted in the summers of 1991 and 1993 involving 190 neonatal calves, 1-day to 19-days-old. Bacteremia was detected by blood culture in 31% (28/90) of calves in study 1, and in 24% (19/79) of ill calves and 0% (0/21) of control calves in study 2. Bacteria cultured from blood included Escherichia coli (51% of all isolates), other gram-negative enterics (25.5%), gram-negative anaerobes (5.9%), gram-positive cocci (11.8%), and gram-positive rods (5.9%). Among clinically ill calves, the average age was significantly lower in the blood culture-negative group (5.5 d) than in the blood culture-positive group (7.5 d) (P = 0.004). Mean serum IgG concentration was significantly (P = 0.0001) lower in blood culture-positive calves (1.146 g/L) than in blood culture-negative calves (3.077 g/L). The mortality rate was significantly (P < 0.0001) higher in the blood culture-positive group (57.4%) than in the blood culture-negative group (15.1%). Bacteremia appeared to be a frequent entity in this particular rearing situation. Early recognition of the problem, as well as appropriate treatment, may be beneficial in increasing survival rates. Results also support the need to address the failure of passive transfer of maternal antibodies to prevent bacteremia in calves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-100
Number of pages6
JournalCanadian Veterinary Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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