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Hemorrhagic bowel syndrome in dairy cattle: 22 cases (1997–2000)

Anita C. Dennison DVM1, David C. VanMetre DVM, DACVIM2, Robert J. Callan DVM, PhD, DACVIM3, Page Dinsmore DVM, DABVP4, Gary L. Mason DVM, PhD, DACVP5, and Robert P. Ellis PhD6
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  • 1 Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1620.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1620.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1620.
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1620.
  • | 5 Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1620.
  • | 6 Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1620.

Abstract

Objective—To determine signalment, history, and clinical, necropsy, and microbiologic findings in dairy cows with hemorrhagic bowel syndrome.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—22 adult dairy cows from a single farm in Colorado.

Procedure—Medical records were reviewed for information on signalment, medical and reproductive history, the owner's chief complaints, results of physical examinations and ancillary diagnostic tests, treatment and response to treatment, results of microbiologic testing, and, if applicable, postmortem findings.

Results—Common clinical signs were acute signs of profound depression, decreased milk production, tachycardia, ruminal stasis, abdominal distention, and dark clotted blood in the feces. Rectal examination revealed distended loops of small intestine in 7 of 14 cows. Transabdominal ultrasonography revealed small intestinal ileus and distention in 12 of 12 cows and homogeneous echogenic intraluminal material compatible with intraluminal hemorrhage and clot formation in 4. Seven of 8 cows treated medically died; 9 of 13 cows that underwent surgery died or were euthanatized. Clostridium perfringens was isolated from fecal samples from 17 of 20 cows. The most common morphologic diagnosis at necropsy was severe necrohemorrhagic enteritis or jejunitis with intraluminal hemorrhage or blood clots. The most prominent histologic finding was severe, segmental submucosal hemorrhage and edema of the small intestine.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results confirm that in adult cattle, hemorrhagic bowel syndrome is a sporadic acute intestinal disorder characterized by intraluminal hemorrhage and obstruction of the small intestine. Clostridium perfringens was consistently isolated from the feces of affected cows. The prognosis for affected cows was grave. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;221:686–689)

Abstract

Objective—To determine signalment, history, and clinical, necropsy, and microbiologic findings in dairy cows with hemorrhagic bowel syndrome.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—22 adult dairy cows from a single farm in Colorado.

Procedure—Medical records were reviewed for information on signalment, medical and reproductive history, the owner's chief complaints, results of physical examinations and ancillary diagnostic tests, treatment and response to treatment, results of microbiologic testing, and, if applicable, postmortem findings.

Results—Common clinical signs were acute signs of profound depression, decreased milk production, tachycardia, ruminal stasis, abdominal distention, and dark clotted blood in the feces. Rectal examination revealed distended loops of small intestine in 7 of 14 cows. Transabdominal ultrasonography revealed small intestinal ileus and distention in 12 of 12 cows and homogeneous echogenic intraluminal material compatible with intraluminal hemorrhage and clot formation in 4. Seven of 8 cows treated medically died; 9 of 13 cows that underwent surgery died or were euthanatized. Clostridium perfringens was isolated from fecal samples from 17 of 20 cows. The most common morphologic diagnosis at necropsy was severe necrohemorrhagic enteritis or jejunitis with intraluminal hemorrhage or blood clots. The most prominent histologic finding was severe, segmental submucosal hemorrhage and edema of the small intestine.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results confirm that in adult cattle, hemorrhagic bowel syndrome is a sporadic acute intestinal disorder characterized by intraluminal hemorrhage and obstruction of the small intestine. Clostridium perfringens was consistently isolated from the feces of affected cows. The prognosis for affected cows was grave. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;221:686–689)