Original Research

Approaches to increase recovery of bacterial and fungal abortion agents in domestic ruminants

Annelize Jonker, Peter N. Thompson, Anita L. Michel
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 90, No 1 | a2010 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v90i1.2010 | © 2023 Annelize Jonker, Peter N. Thompson, Anita L. Michel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 March 2022 | Published: 11 January 2023

About the author(s)

Annelize Jonker, Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Research Programme, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Peter N. Thompson, Department of Production Animal Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Anita L. Michel, Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Research Programme, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Abortions in domestic ruminants cause significant economic losses to farmers. Determining the cause of an abortion is important for control efforts, but it can be challenging. All available diagnostic methods in the bacteriology laboratory should be employed in every case due to the many limiting factors (autolysis, lack of history, range of samples) that complicate the investigation process. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the recovery of diagnostically significant isolates from domestic ruminant abortion cases could be increased through the use of a combination of the existing aerobic culture and Brucella selective method with methods that are commonly recommended in the literature reporting abortion investigations. These methods are examination of wet preparations and impression smears stained by the modified Ziehl–Neelsen method, anaerobic, microaerophilic, Leptospira, Mycoplasma and fungal culture. Samples of placenta and aborted foetuses from 135 routine clinical abortion cases of cattle (n = 88), sheep (n = 25) and goats (n = 22) were analysed by the new combination of methods. In 46 cases, bacteria were identified as aetiological agents and in one case a fungus. Isolation of Brucella species increased to 7.4% over two years compared with the previous 10 years (7.3%), as well as Campylobacter jejuni (n = 2) and Rhizopus species (n = 1). Salmonella species (5.9%) and Trueperella pyogenes (4.4%) were also isolated more often. In conclusion, the approach was effective in removing test selection bias in the bacteriology laboratory. The importance of performing an in-depth study on the products of abortion by means of an extensive, combination of conventional culture methods was emphasised by increased isolation of Brucella abortus and isolation of C. jejuni. The combination of methods that yielded the most clinically relevant isolates was aerobic, microaerophilic, Brucella and fungal cultures.


Keywords

abortion; culture; Brucella; Campylobacter; bovine; ovine; caprine; ruminants

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