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BACTERIAL contamination of the uterus is very common after parturition and is followed by metritis in up to 40 per cent of dairy cows (Borsberry and Dobson 1989, Sheldon and others 2006, 2009). Several risk factors have been identified for the establishment of uterine disease, under the categories of uterine damage, metabolic conditions and the balance between pathogenicity and immunity (Sheldon and Dobson 2004). Disease is associated with the isolation of Arcanobacterium pyogenes, Escherichia coli and anaerobic bacteria (Sheldon and Dobson 2004, Williams and others 2005). The economic consequences of uterine disease include the cost of treatment, with an average of 1.4 treatments required for vaginal discharge per cow (Kossaibati and Esslemont 1997).
Bovine herpesvirus type 4 (BoHV-4) is a gammaherpesvirus that has been isolated both in healthy cattle and as a probable opportunistic infection in cattle affected with a variety of clinical conditions (Donofrio and others 2005), and it has been associated with uterine disease within 28 days of calving (Frazier and others 2001, Monge and others 2006). The identification of another gammaherpesvirus designated bovine lymphotrophic herpesvirus (BLHV) was first described by Rovnak and others (1998), and was detected in cases of non-responsive postpartum metritis in the UK (Banks and others 2008).
Uterine disease has been divided into five clinical categories. Animals that are not systemically ill but have an abnormally enlarged uterus and a purulent uterine discharge detectable in the vagina, within 21 days of calving, can be classified as having clinical metritis (Sheldon and others 2006, 2008, 2009). A rising incidence of clinical metritis in a dairy herd prompted the present investigation of the aerobic bacteria and gammaherpesviruses associated with the disease within the herd by means of a case-control study.
The investigation was undertaken between April …