Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Uterine infection: overview

Synonym(s): Metritis, endometritis, pyometra, vaginal discharge

Contributor(s): Wiley Blackwell, Jo Oultram

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Introduction

  • Uterine infections are a frequent disorder during the postpartum period.
  • 20-40% of dairy cattle may develop one or more uterine diseases during lactation. In addition to the animal welfare implications of uterine disease, it also results in economic loss, due to:
    • Decreased milk yield.
    • Impaired fertility.
    • Premature culling.
    • Death.
  • The three principal postpartum uterine infections are metritis, endometritis and pyometra.
  • Prolonged calving, twins, dystocia, and retained fetal membranes (RFM) are often implicated as predisposing factors for uterine infection.
  • Although metritis, endometritis, pyometra and retained fetal membranes are distinct clinical condition, they do share common etiologies and treatments and also predispose to one another, Together, these conditions result in significant infertility problems for the cattle industry.
  • Dairy cattle seem to be more susceptible than beef cattle or are more likely to be presented for examination on an individual or herd basis. The reasons for this may include:
    • Due to the pressures of lactation, dairy cattle body systems are under increased stress and are thus more likely to be in a state of negative energy balance and/or immunocompromised.
    • Dairy cattle are more intensively housed, than beef cattle, and are, therefore more likely to be exposed to pathogenic strains of bacteria.
    • Dairy cattle are observed more closely than beef cattle, and so it is more likely that issues will be picked up by the stock person.
  • The proportion of cattle developing uterine disease varies greatly, even between what outwardly appear to be similar farms in the same geographical region. Milk production, hygiene, and other specific farm management factors should be evaluated.

Pathophysiology

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Defining uterine infections

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
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  • Machado V, Knauer W, Bicalho M et al (2012) A novel diagnostic technique to determine uterine health of Holstein cows at 35 days postpartum. J Dairy Sci 95, 1349–1357 PubMed.
  • Santos T, Gilbert R & Bicalho R (2011) Metagenomic analysis of the uterine bacterial microbiota in healthy and metritic postpartum dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 94, 291–302 PubMed.
  • Dubuc J, Duffield T, Leslie K, Walton J & LeBlanc S (2011) Randomized clinical trial of antibiotic and prostaglandin treatments for uterine health and reproductive performance in dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 94, 1325–1338 PubMed.
  • Wittrock J, Proudfoot K, Weary D & von Keyserlingk M (2011) Metritis affects milk production and cull rate of Holstein multiparous and primiparous dairy cows differently. J Dairy Sci 94, 2408–2412 PubMed.
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Other sources of information

  • Risco C, Youngquist R, Shore M (2007) Postpartum uterine infections. In: Current Therapy in Large Animal Theriogenology. Eds: Youngquist R S & Threlfall W R. 2nd edn. WB Saunders, USA. pp 339–344.
  • Noakes D, Parkinson T, England G & Arthur G (2002) Arthur’s Veterinary Reproduction and Obstetrics. 8th edn. Elsevier Science. pp 399–408.
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