The cause of arterial hypoxia during natural infection with bovine respiratory syncytial virus was studied in seven calves (three to nine months of age) originating from five herds with respiratory tract disease and serological evidence of infection with the virus. Blood gas values were measured during ambient air breathing and during 100 per cent oxygen breathing. The percentages of contribution to the arterial hypoxia from alveolar hypoventilation, mismatching of ventilation and perfusion, and right-to-left shunting were calculated from the measured parameters. Calculated percentages of total venous admixture varied from 14 per cent of cardiac output in relatively mild cases to 48 per cent in the worst affected animal. This venous admixture had been caused mainly by right-to-left shunting of blood, while mismatching of ventilation and perfusion became important in the more severely affected animals. Alveolar hypoventilation was only important in the worst affected animal.
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