Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Neonatal septicemia and meningitis

Contributor(s): Mike Reynolds , Peter Down

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Introduction

  • Neonatal septicemia or sepsis is a term used to describe new born calves with a systemic infection.
  • Meningitis, is inflammation of one or more of the three covering layers of the meninges (dura mater, arachnoid, and pia mater) in the central nervous system.
  • Mortality is invariably high in both conditions and therefore recognition of the associated clinical syndromes and rapid instigation of therapy is essential to the preservation of life.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Neonatal calves are born reliant upon ingestion of an adequate volume of high quality colostrum Colostrum: overview to achieve immune competence.
  • Inadequate colostrum supply serves as a major risk factor for the development of neonatal septicemia and associated meningitis. This is particularly so for those calves born to heavily contaminated environments.
  • Escherichia coli Escherichia coli have long been incriminated as the principle microbial agent responsible for neonatal septicemia in the bovine and whilst it the most commonly encountered causative agent, other bacteria such as Salmonella spp Salmonella spp will also cause clinical disease.

Predisposing factors

General

Pathophysiology

  • Calves born to heavily contaminated environments are susceptible to disease.
  • Entry of pathogenic bacteria may occur in utero, during the calving process or shortly after birth.
  • Entry points include the respiratory epithelium, oropharynx, nasopharynx, umbilicus and intestines via the fecal oral route.
  • In the first postnatal hours, nonspecific pinocytosis allowing immunoglobulin entry may also allow bacterial entry to the systemic circulation and so this is a common route of infection.
  • Older calves 2 or 3 weeks of age may succumb to sepsis or meningitis from a chronic, septic focus such as a joint infection or omphalophlebitis.

Timecourse

  • Clinical signs usually commence within 24 hours of pathogen entry.
  • The duration of clinical signs is dependent upon the infective load, the degree of passive transfer and time to instigation of therapy.
  • Return to clinical normality will normally be a number of days.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Fecteau G, Smith B P, George LW (2009) Septicemia and Meningitis in the Newborn Calf. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract 25, 195-208 PubMed.
  • Fecteau G, George LW (2004) Bacterial meningitis and encephalitis in ruminants. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract 20, 363-337 PubMed.
  • Scott P R (2004) Diagnostic techniques and clinicopathologic findings in ruminant neurologic disease. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract 20, 215-230 PubMed.
  • Aldridge B M, Garry F B, Adams R et al (1993) Neonatal septicemia in calves: 25 cases (1985–1990). JAVMA 203, 1324-1329 PubMed.


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