Brucella ovis excretion in semen of seronegative, clinically normal breeding rams

Marie S. Bulgin From the University of Idaho, Caine Food Animal Teaching and Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, 1020 E Homedale Rd, Caldwell, ID 83605.

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Summary

A commercial flock of Suffolk and Suffolk-cross breeding rams was monitored for 5 years in an effort to control epididymitis caused by Brucella ovis. Scrotal palpation, semen evaluations, and vaccination against B ovis were used the first 3 years. Serologic evaluation (complement fixation and elisa) was added the fourth year, and bacteriologic culturing was added to the program the fifth year.

Semen culturing in the fifth year revealed 9 (37.5%) of 24 rams were actively excreting B ovis; 6 of those 9 rams were seronegative. Neither semen quality nor the presence of wbc in the semen were dependable criteria to detect these seronegative carriers. In spite of the high percentage of B ovis excretors, few clinical signs of epididymitis were detected in the flock during the last 3 years of the study. It was hypothesized that vaccination protected rams against the clinical disease but not the carrier state. The importance of culturing semen for assessment of a control program was emphasized.

Summary

A commercial flock of Suffolk and Suffolk-cross breeding rams was monitored for 5 years in an effort to control epididymitis caused by Brucella ovis. Scrotal palpation, semen evaluations, and vaccination against B ovis were used the first 3 years. Serologic evaluation (complement fixation and elisa) was added the fourth year, and bacteriologic culturing was added to the program the fifth year.

Semen culturing in the fifth year revealed 9 (37.5%) of 24 rams were actively excreting B ovis; 6 of those 9 rams were seronegative. Neither semen quality nor the presence of wbc in the semen were dependable criteria to detect these seronegative carriers. In spite of the high percentage of B ovis excretors, few clinical signs of epididymitis were detected in the flock during the last 3 years of the study. It was hypothesized that vaccination protected rams against the clinical disease but not the carrier state. The importance of culturing semen for assessment of a control program was emphasized.

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