Pathology of Naturally Occurring Bacillary Hemoglobinuria in Cattle

M. A. Navarro, F. Dutra, C. Briano, A. Romero, M. Persiani, J. C. Freedman, E. Morrell, J. Beingesser, Francisco A Uzal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Clostridium haemolyticum causes bacillary hemoglobinuria (BH), an infectious and usually fatal disease that occurs mostly in cattle, which is clinically characterized by jaundice, hemoglobinuria, and anemia. The trematode Fasciola hepatica has been commonly reported as the main predisposing factor that triggers this condition. The authors evaluated 20 naturally occurring cases of bovine BH to characterize the pathology and pathogenesis of the disease. Grossly, the most consistent finding was a large, frequently single focus of necrosis surrounded by a red to purple halo, observed most frequently on the parietal surface of the right and left hepatic lobes. Other findings were jaundice, dark-brown discoloration of kidneys, and red urine in the urinary bladder. Microscopically, characteristic lesions were locally extensive, necrotizing hepatitis with thrombosis and numerous intralesional Gram-positive rod-shaped bacteria, and acute renal tubular necrosis. By immunohistochemistry, many hepatocytes outside the necrotic focus in the liver were positive for activated caspase 3, suggesting that those cells were undergoing apoptosis. Ultrastructural evaluation revealed hepatocyte necrosis, hemolysis, and clumps of vegetative and sporulating bacilli within the liver. Polymerase chain reaction for the C. haemolyticum beta toxin gene was positive in randomly selected liver samples. No gross or microscopic lesions indicative of fascioliasis were detected in the liver of any animal, suggesting that other yet undetermined predisposing factors were associated with these cases of BH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-466
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • bacillary hemoglobinuria
  • beta toxin
  • bovine
  • cattle
  • Clostridium haemolyticum
  • liver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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