07 Friday August 2020
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Calf diphtheria is an acute oral infection of calves less than 3 months old. It is caused by Fusobacterium (Sphaerophorus) necrophorum. This agent also causes liver abscesses and “foot rot” in cattle.

Transmission: Fusobacterium necrophorum is an inhabitant of cattle's digestive tract and the environment. Under unhygienic conditions, infection may be spread on feeding troughs and dirty milk pails. Some of the contributory factors for occurrence of this disease include abrasions in the oral mucosa, animals suffering from poor nutrition and other (intercurrent) disease present in young calves.

Antemortem findings:

  1. High temperature
  2. Coughing
  3. Loss of appetite and depression
  4. Difficult breathing, chewing and swallowing
  5. Swollen pharyngeal region
  6. Deep ulcers on the tongue, palate, and inside of cheeks
  7. Pneumonia

Postmortem findings:

  1. Inflammation and ulceration with large masses of yellow-grey material in the mouth, tongue, pharynx and larynx
  2. Often aspiration pneumonia

Judgement: Carcass of an animal affected with local lesions is approved. Generalized diphtheric lesions associated with pneumonia or toxaemia require the carcass condemnation. The carcass is also condemned if lesions are associated with emaciation.

Differential diagnosis: Vesicular diseases, neoplasms and abscesses