Thrombotic meningoencephalitis

From Cow
Feedlot calf with classic signs of sleeping sickness
Suppurative meningitis at the base of the brain of a calf due to H. somni

Thrombotic meningoencephalitis (TME) is a neurological disease of cattle caused by infection with the bacterium Histophilus somni (Haemophilus somni).

Historically, this disease manifested itself as ‘sleeping sickness’ in cattle. This disease has been observed in cattle as young as one week of age and as old as 10 years[1].

Treatment is based on supportive care, and use of antimicrobial therapy. Antibiotics such as tetracyclines, ceftiofur or enrofloxacin may assist recovery. Use of prophylactic feed medication post-arrival may also help reduce death losses[2].

Responses with in-field vaccines have yielded variable results[3], although they do appear to reduce loss of numbers in feedlot situations[4].


  1. Harris, FW & Janzen, ED (1989) The Haemophilus somnus disease complex (Hemophilosis): A review. Can Vet J 30:816-822
  2. Van Donkersgoed, J et al (1994) The occurrence of Haemophilus somnus in feedlot calves and its control by postarrival prophylactic mass medication. Can Vet J 35:573-580
  3. Ribble, CS et al (1988) Efficacy of immunization of feedlot calves with a commercial Haemophilus somnus bacterin. Can J Vet Res 52:191-198
  4. Groom, SC & Little, PB (1988) Effects of vaccination of calves against induced Haemophilus somnus pneumonia. Am J Vet Res 49:793-800