Species of Brucella which have been reported in cattle include:
Transmission of the bacterium amongst cows occurs via grass contaminated with vaginal discharge as well as cows licking each other.
Venereal transmission by infected bulls is rare.
Few clinical signs are apparent in infected bulls, although inflammatory changes to the seminal vesicles, ampullae, testicles, and epididymides may occur.
Diagnosis is based on clinical signs of reproductive disorders accompanied by confirmation of isolated Brucella spp in aborted material via bacteriology or serology. ELISA and PCR testing of milk can be done for monitoring Brucella spp infections in the herd situation.
A differential diagnosis must include excluding other causes of infertility such as bovine viral diarrhoea, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, Mycoplasma spp, Tritrichomonas spp and Neospora caninum.
Medical treatment of individual animals may minimise infectivity.
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