Pathology of blackleg in cattle in California, 1991-2015

Camila C. Abreu, Patricia C. Blanchard, John M. Adaska, Robert B Moeller, Mark Anderson, Mauricio A. Navarro, Santiago S. Diab, Francisco A. Uzal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Blackleg is an infectious disease of cattle and rarely other ruminants, produced by Clostridium chauvoei and characterized by necrotizing myositis. In most cases of blackleg, the large muscles of the pectoral and pelvic girdles are affected, with other skeletal muscles and the heart involved less frequently. We studied 29 blackleg cases selected from the archives of the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, 1991-2015. Immunohistochemistry was also evaluated to detect C. chauvoei in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues of cattle. Nineteen animals had gross and/or microscopic lesions in both skeletal muscle and heart, 9 had lesions in the skeletal musculature alone, and 1 in the heart alone. Gross lesions in the skeletal musculature involved the following muscle groups: hindquarters ( n = 8), forequarters ( n = 5), neck ( n = 5), lumbar area ( n = 3), brisket ( n = 2), diaphragm ( n = 2), abdominal wall ( n = 1), thoracic wall ( n = 1), and tongue ( n = 1). Of the 20 animals that had lesions in the heart, 11 had pericarditis and myocarditis; 7 had pericarditis, myocarditis, and endocarditis; and 1 each had pericarditis and myocarditis. Immunohistochemistry was 100% sensitive to detect C. chauvoei in FFPE skeletal muscle and/or heart of cattle with blackleg. Simultaneous lesions in skeletal musculature and heart were relatively common in blackleg cases in California; the most affected skeletal muscles were those of the hindlimbs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)894-901
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of veterinary diagnostic investigation : official publication of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Inc
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Blackleg
  • cattle
  • Clostridium chauvoei
  • myocarditis
  • myositis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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