Article Text

Short Communication
Large outbreak of blackleg in housed cattle
  1. P. K. Groseth, DVM1,
  2. C. Ersdal, DVM, PhD2,
  3. A. M. Bjelland, DVM3 and
  4. M. Stokstad, DVM, PhD1
  1. Department of Production Animal Clinical Sciences, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, PB 8146 Dep, 0033 Oslo, Norway
  2. Department of Basic Sciences and Aquatic Medicine, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, PB 8146 Dep, 0033 Oslo, Norway
  3. Department of Food Safety and Infection Biology, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, PB 8146 Dep, 0033 Oslo, Norway
  1. E-mail for correspondence per.groseth{at}

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BLACKLEG is a usually fatal disease in cattle characterised by necrotising myositis of striated and cardiac muscle (Uzal and others 2003, van Vleet 2007). The disease is associated with Clostridium chauvoei, a Gram-positive anaerobic spore-forming bacterium (Gillespie and others 1988). This short communication describes an outbreak of blackleg in a Norwegian cattle herd in which 72 housed animals died over a 12-day period in August 2010.

The outbreak occurred on a family-owned farm in the lowlands of south-east Norway, where blackleg is not endemic. Blackleg had not been previously diagnosed on this farm. The holding comprised an 80-cow dairy herd and a 75-cow beef suckler herd. All youngstock were reared on the farm. Additionally, young bulls and heifers of mixed breeds were purchased for rearing. The dairy and beef herds were recruited from homebred stock. The remaining youngstock were finished. All weaned animals were placed in a barn housing 750 cattle aged between three and 24 months on deep straw bedding. There were 21 pens in the barn, each measuring 190 m2. Between 30 and 65 animals were kept in each pen at the start of the outbreak. They were fed a total mixed ration that consisted of grass silage, brewer's grains, bread and a mineral mixture. The grass silage which had been fed for the 14 days preceding the outbreak had been harvested in a period of frequent rainfall 5 km from the farm. It had been stored as plastic-wrapped round bales for more than 12 months and contained considerable soil contamination. On the second day of the outbreak, cattle were moved between four …

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