Experimental transmission of epizootic bovine abortion (foothill abortion)

Jeffrey L. Stott, Myra T. Blanchard, Mark Anderson, John Maas, Richard L. Walker, Peter C. Kennedy, Ben B. Norman, Robert H. BonDurant, Michael N. Oliver, Donald Hanks, Mark R. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Advances in defining the biology of epizootic bovine abortion (EBA), including identification of the etiologic agent, have been hampered by the inability to reproduce the disease with confidence. Experimental reproduction of EBA, by feeding the tick vector Ornithodoros coriaceus on susceptible pregnant heifers, is not reliable. The primary objectives of this study were to identify specific tissue(s) obtained from EBA-infected fetuses that could transmit the disease, and then utilize such an infectious challenge system to better define the pathogen, host immunity and geographic distribution of the agent. Described here is the ability to routinely reproduce EBA following inoculation of cryopreserved suspensions of homogenized thymus into susceptible pregnant heifers. This challenge system permitted experiments demonstrating the agent was non-filterable, inactivated upon sonication and susceptible to antibiotics. These findings suggest a prokaryotic microbe and represent a major advance in EBA research. Additional experiments demonstrated that inoculation of the cryopreserved EBA-infectious tissue into heifers, prior to breeding, conferred immunity. Furthermore, such immunized heifers were resistant to challenge with heterologous sources of infectious tissue, suggesting monovalent vaccine development might be feasible. Lastly, challenge studies employing animals from Central Nevada, an area considered free of EBA, demonstrated partial immunity, suggesting the pathogen, and possibly the disease, enjoy a broader distribution than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-173
Number of pages13
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 25 2002


  • Disease transmission
  • EBA
  • Epizootic bovine abortion
  • Foothill abortion
  • Immunity
  • Ornithodoros coriaceus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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