Borrelia spp are a Gram-negative anaerobic spirochete bacteria transmitted by Ornithodorus spp ticks and cause bovine epizootic abortion in cattle and Lyme disease in humans across the USA, Europe and Asia.
Species of Borrelia which are known to infect cattle include:
- B. burgdorferia (Lyme disease)
- B. crocidurae (Epizootic bovine abortion)
- B. garinii
- B. afzelii
In clinically affected cattle, fever, reduced milk production, lymphadenopathy, anorexia and joint pain have been reported. Erythematous lesions on the interdigital skin and hairless skin of the udder have been described.
Foetal abortions appear to be triggered by vasculitis as a result of Borrelia spp colonisation of fetal lymph nodes and spleen. These foci frequently formed pyogranulomas.
Experimental infections induced in cattle with B. burgdorferi, B. garinii and B. afzelii failed to induce any clinical symptoms, suggesting immunosensitivity to the bacteria may play a role in pathogenesis of disease.
A diagnosis is determined based on clinical signs supported by ELISA or PCR testing.
Control of tick populations will minimise spread and outbreaks of this disease. Vaccines are not commercially used in cattle although they are available for other species.
- Lischer CJ et al (2000) Diagnosis of Lyme disease in two cows by the detection of Borrelia burgdorferi DNA. Vet Rec 146(17):497-499
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- Tuomi J et al (1998) Experimental infection of cattle with several Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato strains; immunological heterogeneity of strains as revealed in serological tests. Vet Microbiol 60(1):27-43