Icterus in bob veal calves and its association with lack of colostrum intake and high serum creatine kinase activity

Mary L. Gray From the Departments of Pathology (Gray, Bounous, Kelley) and Medical Microbiology (Brown), College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-7388; USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Science, Eastern Laboratory, PO Box 6085, Athens, GA 30605 (Kelley); and Establishment 6518, Florida Veal Processors, Rt 674, Wimauma, FL 33598 (Almazan).

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Denise I. Bounous From the Departments of Pathology (Gray, Bounous, Kelley) and Medical Microbiology (Brown), College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-7388; USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Science, Eastern Laboratory, PO Box 6085, Athens, GA 30605 (Kelley); and Establishment 6518, Florida Veal Processors, Rt 674, Wimauma, FL 33598 (Almazan).

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Lynda C. Kelley From the Departments of Pathology (Gray, Bounous, Kelley) and Medical Microbiology (Brown), College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-7388; USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Science, Eastern Laboratory, PO Box 6085, Athens, GA 30605 (Kelley); and Establishment 6518, Florida Veal Processors, Rt 674, Wimauma, FL 33598 (Almazan).

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Pedro Almazan From the Departments of Pathology (Gray, Bounous, Kelley) and Medical Microbiology (Brown), College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-7388; USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Science, Eastern Laboratory, PO Box 6085, Athens, GA 30605 (Kelley); and Establishment 6518, Florida Veal Processors, Rt 674, Wimauma, FL 33598 (Almazan).

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John Brown From the Departments of Pathology (Gray, Bounous, Kelley) and Medical Microbiology (Brown), College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-7388; USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Science, Eastern Laboratory, PO Box 6085, Athens, GA 30605 (Kelley); and Establishment 6518, Florida Veal Processors, Rt 674, Wimauma, FL 33598 (Almazan).

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SUMMARY

Icterus condemnations compose a substantial proportion (41%) of total condemnations of bob veal, the class of veal composed of calves < 3 weeks old and weighing up to 68 kg. At postmortem examination, bob veal condemned because of icterus have generalized yellow discoloration of tissues, which is commonly associated with large, yellow liver (fatty liver), and a paucity of other gross pathologic changes. To establish that the generalized yellow discoloration was attributable to high tissue bilirubin concentrations and to examine the underlying mechanism(s) that might be responsible, blood samples and tissue specimens were obtained from clinically normal and icteric bob veal calves at slaughter. For comparison, blood samples were collected from clinically normal, 1- to 5-day-old Holstein calves being raised on local dairy farms. Hematologic and serum biochemical analyses were obtained for the 3 groups of calves (normal local, normal slaughter, and icteric slaughter), and tissues of slaughter calves were examined for histologic evidence of inflammatory or degenerative changes. Mean ± sd total bilirubin concentration and creatine kinase (ck) activity in icteric bob veal (3.3 ± 0.8 mg/dl; 869 ± 788 U/L), normal bob veal (1.4 ± 0.7 mg/dl; 486 ± 890 U/L), and normal local calves (0.5 ± 0.2 mg/dl; 156 ± 158 U/L) were significantly different. When data for both normal and icteric bob veal calf groups were combined for analysis, total bilirubin concentration regressed significantly on hepatic lipid scores (P = 0.00003) and ck activity (P = 0.00049). Colostrum consumption was determined by measuring serum total protein concentration and serum γ-glutamyltransferase activity. Bob veal calves that had not consumed colostrum had significantly higher total bilirubin (P = 0.00005) and ck (P = 0.0008) values. It was concluded that normal and icteric bob veal calves have significant increase in total bilirubin concentration, and icterus of bob veal calves is secondary to unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia. Lack of colostrum consumption was strongly correlated with icterus in bob veal calves.

SUMMARY

Icterus condemnations compose a substantial proportion (41%) of total condemnations of bob veal, the class of veal composed of calves < 3 weeks old and weighing up to 68 kg. At postmortem examination, bob veal condemned because of icterus have generalized yellow discoloration of tissues, which is commonly associated with large, yellow liver (fatty liver), and a paucity of other gross pathologic changes. To establish that the generalized yellow discoloration was attributable to high tissue bilirubin concentrations and to examine the underlying mechanism(s) that might be responsible, blood samples and tissue specimens were obtained from clinically normal and icteric bob veal calves at slaughter. For comparison, blood samples were collected from clinically normal, 1- to 5-day-old Holstein calves being raised on local dairy farms. Hematologic and serum biochemical analyses were obtained for the 3 groups of calves (normal local, normal slaughter, and icteric slaughter), and tissues of slaughter calves were examined for histologic evidence of inflammatory or degenerative changes. Mean ± sd total bilirubin concentration and creatine kinase (ck) activity in icteric bob veal (3.3 ± 0.8 mg/dl; 869 ± 788 U/L), normal bob veal (1.4 ± 0.7 mg/dl; 486 ± 890 U/L), and normal local calves (0.5 ± 0.2 mg/dl; 156 ± 158 U/L) were significantly different. When data for both normal and icteric bob veal calf groups were combined for analysis, total bilirubin concentration regressed significantly on hepatic lipid scores (P = 0.00003) and ck activity (P = 0.00049). Colostrum consumption was determined by measuring serum total protein concentration and serum γ-glutamyltransferase activity. Bob veal calves that had not consumed colostrum had significantly higher total bilirubin (P = 0.00005) and ck (P = 0.0008) values. It was concluded that normal and icteric bob veal calves have significant increase in total bilirubin concentration, and icterus of bob veal calves is secondary to unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia. Lack of colostrum consumption was strongly correlated with icterus in bob veal calves.

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