Spatial and seasonal analysis and geovisualization of Fasciola hepatica–free bovine bacillary hemoglobinuria outbreaks in eastern Uruguay, 1999–2019

F. Dutra, M. Navarro, A. Romero, C. Briano, M. Pereira, F. A. Uzal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bovine bacillary hemoglobinuria (BBH) produced by Clostridium novyi type D, is an endemic, highly fatal disease of cattle in the temperate grassland region of eastern Uruguay. A previous study showed that in this region, BBH is not associated with Fasciola hepatica or any other known focal-ischemic liver injury, so the reasons for its high incidence remains undetermined. The objective of this study was to analyze data from 45 Fasciola hepatica-free BBH outbreaks (1999–2019) in order to find common animal, seasonal and/or geographical risk factors, which may explain the occurrence of the epizootics. Fisher's goodness-of-fit testing showed a significantly higher case proportion of adult cows (N = 368, 80.5%) and lower of calves (N =8, 1.8%), as compared to the expected proportions of the censused population in the study area and historical submissions computed from the laboratory database (Chi-Sq = 346.2 and 174.8, df = 7, P < 0.00). Time series decomposition showed a bi-seasonal pattern, with a larger peak in spring and early summer (October to January) and a smaller increase in autumn (March-May). The lowest seasonal indices were on mid-summer (February) and winter (June-September). A combination of spatial statistics was used to assess the different spatial features of the disease and consistency of the findings. Global spatial autocorrelation showed BBH was significantly clustered (Moran's I = 0.407, P < 0.001). Both smoothed Anselin's Local Indicator of Spatial Autocorrelation and Kulldorff's spatial scan Poisson and Bernoulli models, detected roughly the same high-risk areas in the southeastern part of the Merin Lagoon basin, with the most likely cluster centered in the large wetland biosphere reserve “Eastern Wetlands and Coastal Strip” (RR = 9.12, P < 0.001). Outbreaks were georeferenced (latitude, longitude) and thematic dot-mapping geovisualization in Google Earth™ showed that the results were robust and truly geographic in nature. Most outbreaks (40/45, 88.8%) occurred on wetlands areas and large river valleys, characterized by poorly drained and frequently flooded soils, indicating that moisture-laden soils are the natural habitat of C. novyi type D. Grasslands in these endemic areas support rapid fattening of cattle during spring-summer, and somewhat less in autumn, in almost exact correspondence with BBH peaks, suggesting a close causal association in high-risk areas. Risk is significantly higher in adult cows probably because the spore content in the liver is highest in this category. The altered lipid metabolism and lipotoxicity in the liver may be the precipitating factor for spore germination and epizootic occurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105553
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Bovine bacillary hemoglobinuria
  • Clostridium novyi type D
  • Eastern wetlands
  • Seasonality
  • Spatial analysis
  • Uruguay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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