Nine calves between three and 18 weeks old with serologically confirmed natural bovine respiratory syncytial virus infection were examined clinically, radiographically and by radionuclide lung perfusion imaging. The results were compared with those from seven healthy calves. The diseased calves were euthanased and examined pathologically, virologically and bacteriologically. The clinical signs indicated that the disease was in an acute stage. Radiography of the diseased animals revealed cysts, corresponding morphologically with bullous emphysema, and infiltrations roughly corresponding in distribution with atelectatic and, or, pneumonic areas. Radionuclide lung perfusion imaging revealed no perfusion shifts between the left and right lungs and a normal perfusion pattern in five of the nine diseased calves. The abnormalities in the perfusion patterns of three calves were probably caused by anatomical disorders such as cysts and pleural adhesions, but no cause of the abnormality could be found in one calf. These findings suggest that in calves infected with bovine respiratory syncytial virus, the normal perfusion pattern is maintained until anatomical disorders occur. The pathological examination and radiography revealed that the cranioventral lung fields were particularly poorly ventilated. This finding and the normal perfusion pattern indicate that these parts of the lungs are probably the sites where shuntings and perfusion-ventilation mismatchings occur.
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