Arterial blood gas values of 12 calves in the acute stage of a bovine respiratory syncytial virus infection were compared with corresponding values of 11 healthy calves. The patients appeared to be severely hypoxic. Mean (+/- sd) arterial oxygen tension (PaO2) values of patients and healthy calves were 7.7 +/- 1.9 and 14.2 +/- 1.5 kPa, respectively. Hypercapnia was present in only three of the diseased calves. These findings are in close agreement with findings in young children with respiratory syncytial virus infections. It is argued that the pathophysiological mechanism involved probably is a ventilation-perfusion abnormality.
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