Vegetative endocarditis

From Cow
Vegetative endocarditis in a cow with chronic pneumonia[1]
Chronic interstitial nephritis in a cow with vegetative endocarditis[2]

Vegetative endocarditis is a bacterial disease of the bovine heart as a result of septicaemia.

Bacteria-induced vegetative valvular endocarditis is one of the main cardiac disorders in adult cattle[3]. The prevalence of endocarditis may be as high as 1% of cattle[4], but the disease is often misdiagnosed and only discovered during the slaughtering process or at necropsy.

Bacterial endocarditis is often linked to a primary source of infection and the presence of other infectious lesions, such as mastitis, puerperal metritis, interstitial nephritis, arthritis, or liver abscesses[5].

Causative organisms include:

In diseased cows, clinical signs included recurrent fever, dyspnoea, epistaxis, tachycardia, murmurs, weight loss, decreased milk production, jugular and mammary vein distension with palpable pulse, and ventral and submandibular oedema.

Laboratory abnormalities included neutrophilic leukocytosis, elevated protein concentrations, hypoalbuminaemia, hypergammaglobulinaemia, azotaemia and elevated serum creatinine concentration[7].

Treatment is directed at treating the primary bacterial infection with broad-spectrum antimicrobial therapy. Drugs such as enrofloxacin and tetracyclines is indicated in most cases.

The heart failure may be extreme and intractable if the aortic valve is significantly involved; the prognosis is grave in these cases.


  1. Dept of Agriculture, Ireland
  2. Dept of Agriculture, Ireland
  3. Andrews AH & Williams BM (2004) Endocarditis. In: Andrews AH, editor. Bovine medicine. Oxford: Blackwell Science Publishing; p:726–728
  4. Reef VB & McGuirk SM (1996) Diseases of the cardiovascular system. In: Smith BP, editor. Large animal internal medicine. St Louis: Mosby Publishing; p:507–549
  5. Maillard, M (2007) Endocarditis in Cattle Caused by Bartonella bovis. Emerg Infect Dis 13(9):1383–1385
  6. Houpikian P & Raoult D (2003) Diagnostic methods. Current best practices and guidelines for identification of difficult-to-culture pathogens in infective endocarditis. Cardiol Clin 21:207–217
  7. Mohamed T & Buczinski S (2011) Clinicopathological findings and echocardiographic prediction of the localisation of bovine endocarditis. Vet Rec 169(7):180