Veterinary Record 172:100 doi:10.1136/vr.101050
  • Research
  • Paper

Clinical, microbiological and histological findings in lambs affected by ‘salivary abomasum disease’

  1. S. H. Smith, BVMS, PhD, DipACVP, MRCVS3
  1. 1Clinical Veterinary Medicine Department, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Thessaly, P.O. Box 199, Karditsa GR-43100, Greece
  2. 2Farm Animal Practice, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary studies, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, EH25 9RG, UK
  3. 3Veterinary Pathology Unit, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus, Roslin, Midlothian, EH25 9RG, UK
  4. 4Laboratory of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece;
  1. E-mail for correspondence: gc{at}


‘Salivary abomasum disease’ is a common syndrome in Greece affecting lambs and kids from three to 17 days of age. In this case series, we present clinical and laboratory findings from 37 affected lambs presented alive and subsequently euthanased for welfare reasons and necropsied, and also from 24 other lambs submitted dead that were also necropsied. The clinical signs in the 37 lambs presented alive included lethargy (100 per cent), absence of sucking (83.8 per cent), weakness (37.8 per cent), abdominal distension (40.5 per cent) and increased frequency of urination (24.3 per cent). Diarrhoea was not observed in any affected lambs. At necropsy of these 37 lambs, the abomasum was distended with gas (70.3 per cent), saliva (43.2 per cent) along with mixed milk clots and gastric secretions; while multiple small mucosal and serosal haemorrhages with blood clots (‘coffee grains’) were recorded (91.9 per cent). Eight of 37 lambs that were examined alive, had elevated blood urea nitrogen concentrations (21.6 per cent). The pH of the abomasal contents ranged from 1.0 to 2.8; Escherichia coli was cultured from six of 37 (16.2 per cent) abomasal fluid samples. A mild to moderate inflammatory cell infiltrate was present in the mucosal lamina propria of 13 of 15 abomasal samples (86.6 per cent). Kidneys were paler than normal in 13 of the total 61 lambs necropsied (21.3 per cent); while acute tubular necrosis was evident on histopathological examination of 11 of 12 examined pale kidneys (91.6 per cent). The low abomasal pH and reported successful treatment with oral sodium bicarbonate suggest that metabolic acidosis may develop during the disease; however, further studies, including blood gas analysis, and determination of D- and L-lactic acid concentrations, are necessary to confirm this hypothesis.

  • Accepted November 23, 2012.
  • Published Online First 25 December 2012

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