Long-term study of aerobic bacteria of the genital tract in breeding bitches

Lena Bjurström From the Departments of Clinical Microbiology (Bjurström) and Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Linde-Forsberg), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, S-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.

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Catharina Linde-Forsberg From the Departments of Clinical Microbiology (Bjurström) and Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Linde-Forsberg), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, S-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.

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Summary

The aerobic bacterial flora of the genital tract was characterized in 59 bitches in an 18-month study. The bitches represented 4 breeds and were from 3 kennels. Collection of vaginal swab specimens for bacterial culturing was performed every month, except during estrus when specimens were collected every week (n = 826). The capsule of the swab containing transport media was broken before specimen collection to moisten the tip, which helped to reduce the number of negative cultures. All bitches whelped at least once during the study and, thus, had known reproductive functions. Pregnancy rates, Utter sizes, and pup mortality were within normal limits. Pasteurella multocida, β-hemolytic streptococci group G, and Escherichia coli were the most common bacteria isolated. Although these species generally were isolated from mixed cultures, pure cultures were obtained from 18% of the specimens. There was a tendency for the various breeds to differ in their vaginal bacterial flora. The flora also varied during the reproductive cycle. Pasteurella multocida was isolated significantly more often during proestrus, estrus, metestrus, and pregnancy, than during anestrus and the postpartum period, and β-hemolytic streptococci were isolated significantly more often during proestrus than during estrus, pregnancy, or the postpartum period. Staphylococcus intermedius was almost exclusively found after parturition. Culture results were negative for only 5.2% of specimens cultured. On the basis of our findings, bacterial culturing of vaginal swab specimens from bitches without signs of genital disease is of little value.

Summary

The aerobic bacterial flora of the genital tract was characterized in 59 bitches in an 18-month study. The bitches represented 4 breeds and were from 3 kennels. Collection of vaginal swab specimens for bacterial culturing was performed every month, except during estrus when specimens were collected every week (n = 826). The capsule of the swab containing transport media was broken before specimen collection to moisten the tip, which helped to reduce the number of negative cultures. All bitches whelped at least once during the study and, thus, had known reproductive functions. Pregnancy rates, Utter sizes, and pup mortality were within normal limits. Pasteurella multocida, β-hemolytic streptococci group G, and Escherichia coli were the most common bacteria isolated. Although these species generally were isolated from mixed cultures, pure cultures were obtained from 18% of the specimens. There was a tendency for the various breeds to differ in their vaginal bacterial flora. The flora also varied during the reproductive cycle. Pasteurella multocida was isolated significantly more often during proestrus, estrus, metestrus, and pregnancy, than during anestrus and the postpartum period, and β-hemolytic streptococci were isolated significantly more often during proestrus than during estrus, pregnancy, or the postpartum period. Staphylococcus intermedius was almost exclusively found after parturition. Culture results were negative for only 5.2% of specimens cultured. On the basis of our findings, bacterial culturing of vaginal swab specimens from bitches without signs of genital disease is of little value.

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