Malignant edema in postpartum dairy cattle

Jenee S. Odani, Patricia C Blanchard, John M Adaska, Robert B. Moeller, Francisco A Uzal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Five cases of postparturient vulvovaginitis and metritis in cattle caused by Clostridium septicum (malignant edema) are described in the current report. The diagnosis was established based on detection of C. septicum by culture and fluorescent antibody test. All animals were Holsteins, and 4 were primiparous (the parity of 1 animal was not reported). All animals developed clinical signs 1-3 days after calving, consisting of swelling of perineal and perivulvar areas, fever, and depression. Perineal, perivulvar, and perivaginal gelatinous and often hemorrhagic edema was consistently observed on gross examination. Longitudinal vulvar, vaginal, cervical, and uterine body tears, covered by fibrinous exudates, were also present. Microscopically, vulvar, vaginal, and uterine mucosae were multifocally necrotic and ulcerated. Large Gram-positive rods, some with subterminal spores, were present within the edematous subcutaneous and submucosal tissues. Clostridium septicum was demonstrated by culture and/or fluorescent antibody test in tissues of most animals. These cases of malignant edema were considered to be produced by C. septicum and predisposed by the trauma occurring during parturition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)920-924
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009


  • Clostridium septicum
  • Infection
  • Metritis
  • Postparturient
  • Vulvovaginitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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