Evaluation of bovine abortion cases and tissue suitability for identification of infectious agents in California diagnostic laboratory cases from 2007 to 2012

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27 Scopus citations


Establishing a definitive cause of bovine abortion is a challenging problem faced by veterinary practitioners and diagnosticians. Detection of an infectious or noninfectious source for abortion may facilitate interventions that mitigate future fetal loss in the herd. The purposes of this study were to identify the most common causes of bovine abortion in cases submitted to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, Davis (CAHFS) from 2007 to 2013 and to determine if detection of infectious pathogens differed with the fetal tissue evaluated. Records of 665 bovine abortion cases of 709 animals were reviewed for pathologic diagnoses, test methods used to identify causative conditions, and which tissues yielded successful identification of infectious agents associated with abortion. Over 58% of abortions were attributed to an infectious cause and 46.9% had an infectious agent identified. The most common infectious conditions were Epizootic Bovine Abortion (EBA) (16.2% of all fetuses), other fetal bacterial infections (14.7% of all fetuses), and Neospora caninum (9.3% of all fetuses.) The bacterium associated with EBA (currently named Pajaroellobacter abortibovis) was most commonly identified by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in lymphoid organs (thymus and spleen); N. caninum IHC was most frequently positive in brain, kidney, and placenta. In cases of pathogenic and opportunistic bacterial infections, abomasal samples yielded a significantly greater proportion of definitive aerobic culture results than lung or liver tissues. Direct fluorescent antibody test results for Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus testing were identical between lung and kidney tissues and nearly identical (96.0%) for Bovine Herpesvirus I. Noninfectious abortive conditions included fetal stress (10.5%), dystocia (3.9%), congenital defects (3.3%), toxicological or mineral problems (1.8%), and death of the cow (1.1%). Just over 20% of the aborted fetuses had no gross or histopathological lesions to explain the abortion. This review highlights the need for submission of critical samples including abomasal contents, lymphoid tissues (thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes), and brain to maximize the diagnosticians' ability to identify causes of abortion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-938
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 15 2016


  • Abortion
  • Bovine
  • Diagnostics
  • Infectious agent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Equine
  • Food Animals
  • Small Animals


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