This soil-borne bacteria, which normally resides in the intestine and liver of cattle, primarily causes disease in sheep but also infects cattle by causing subacute or acute necrotic hepatitis with a high mortality rate.
Fecal contamination of pastures by carrier animals is the primary route of infection. It is usually associated with pre-existing liver disease, especially flukes such as Fasciola hepatica and Dicrocoelium spp.
Affected cattle often present acutely with anorexia, fever, recumbency, icterus, gas gangrene and scleral oedema. Many present with no clinical signs before death. As this disease is usually associated with a pre-existing fluke infestation, it is rare to see in catle under 2 years of age, and a history of fascioliasis is common on the property.
In some acutely infected cattle, subcutaneous skin in amelanistic areas may appear black and subcutaneous edema and hemorrhage may also be observed.
Diagnosis is often difficult antemortem. Confirmation usually requires postmortem findings which are usually characteristic; grayish yellow, necrotic foci in the liver along migratory tracks of the young flukes. The peritoneal and thoracic cavities are often filled with copious straw-colored fluid.
Submitted samples are usually sent to laboratory for confirmation of acute fascioliasis with secondary bacterial involvement. Histology often confirms a central eosinophilic inflammation (fluke induced) surrounded by coagulation necrosis with an outer rim of neutrophils.
Confirmation of Clostrium novyi is usually ascertained by bacterial culture, ELISA and PCR assays.
filled with straw-colored fluid and excess fluid in the peritoneal and thoracic cavities. Usually, there is extensive rupture of the capillaries in the subcutaneous tissue, which causes the adjacent skin to turn black (hence the common name, black disease).
Control of fluke burdens and reduction of snail populations in surrounding waterways and streams is essential to minimize further outbreaks of this disease.
- Dept of Agriculture, Ireland
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