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Prospective Serology and Analysis in Diagnosis of Dairy Cow Abortion

Thurmond, Mark C., Picanso, John P., Hietala, Sharon K.
Bovine herpesvirus 1, Bovine viral diarrhea virus, Leptospira interrogans, antibodies, blood, dairies, dairy cows, fetal death, fetus, herds, leptospirosis, monitoring, pregnancy, regression analysis, serology, serotypes, vaccination, California
A prospective serologic investigation was undertaken on 3 California dairies (herds 1,3, and 4, as previously designated in a report on abortion surveillance) to determine if fetal loss was associated with infectious disease agents in cows. The diagnostic problem in these herds was typical of many dairies in that abortions were not discovered for several months and aborted fetuses were seldom recovered. Blood from approximately 100 pregnant cows in each herd was sampled at monthly intervals, beginning when the cows were palpated at approximately 40 days gestation. Sera were tested for antibodies to infectious bovine rhinotracheitis virus and bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) and to the Leptospira serovars pomona, hardjo, grippotyphosa, icterohemorrhagiae, canicola, and szwajizak. Logₙ antibody titers were examined for an association with fetal loss, using multivariate methods of logistic regression and survival analysis. Of the 325 cows followed, 37 aborted, and no fetuses were recovered. Statistical analyses indicated that significant fetal loss was associated with high titers to L. hardjo and with low titers to L. szwajizak (herds 1 and 4) and BVDV (herd 1). Results for herd 3 revealed a connection between abortion and L. icterohemorrhagiae (P = 0.036) and L. canicola (P = 0.050) and possible vaccinal protection against abortion caused by L. grippotyphosa (P = 0.027 and 0.015). For herd 4, there was a marginally significant tendency for the first vaccination of the gestation against leptospirosis to have protected against fetal death (P = 0.077). Advantages of the diagnostic design were that it permitted comparison of titers of aborted cows with those of nonaborted cows and it considered vaccinationinduced titers in analyses. Findings suggest that use of prospective serology and multivariate analysis has application in diagnosis of abortion on large dairies.