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Dairy calf rearing unit and infectious diseases: diarrhea outbreak by bovine coronavirus as a model for the dispersion of pathogenic microorganisms

Alfieri, Amauri Alcindo, Ribeiro, Juliane, de Carvalho Balbo, Luciana, Lorenzetti, Elis, Alfieri, Alice Fernandes
Tropical animal health and production 2018 v.50 no.8 pp. 1937-1940
Bovine coronavirus, biosecurity, cattle diseases, cooperatives, dairy calves, dairy herds, diarrhea, etiology, heifers, infectious diseases, microorganisms, milk, models, neonates, rearing, Brazil
Dairy calf rearing unit is a management system that is only recently being implemented by some milk producer’s cooperatives in southern Brazil. However, aspects related to the health profile of the heifer calves that arrive in the rearing unit as well as about biosecurity practices and microbiological challenges have not yet been evaluated in this rearing system in a tropical country. Diarrhea is the main and most frequent consequence of enteric infections in newborn calves. This study, through some etiological and epidemiological characteristics of an outbreak of neonatal diarrhea, has the aim to alert to the possibility of pathogenic microorganism spread in a dairy heifer calf rearing unit. The diarrhea outbreak presented some non-regular characteristics observed in bovine coronavirus (BCoV) enteric infections in dairy calves. The spread of infection was extremely rapid (1 week); the attack rate (> 50%) was much higher than that observed in calves subjected to conventional rearing; and the age range (5 to 90 days) of the affected heifer calves was much broader than that often observed in the BCoV diarrhea worldwide. These unusual epidemiological characteristics observed in this BCoV diarrhea outbreak raise awareness of the health threat present in calf rearing units as well as of the easy and rapid viral spread in a population of young animals from different dairy herds and, therefore, with very distinct immunological status.