Faeces samples were collected from 302 untreated calves on the day of onset of diarrhoea and from 49 healthy calves at 32 farms experiencing outbreaks of diarrhoea. At least four diarrhoeic calves were sampled on each farm, and samples were examined for rotavirus, coronavirus, cryptosporidium, enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli and Salmonella species. Although all these enteropathogens were excreted more frequently by the diarrhoeic than by the healthy calves, the difference was significant overall only for rotavirus. Rotavirus was excreted by 18 per cent of healthy calves, coronavirus by 4 per cent, cryptosporidium by 14 per cent, and no enterotoxigenic E coli or Salmonella species were detected. The most common enteropathogen in diarrhoeic calves was rotavirus, which was excreted by more than half the diarrhoeic calves on 18 farms. Coronavirus was excreted at a similar high prevalence on one farm, cryptosporidium on five farms and enterotoxigenic E coli on three farms. Concurrent infection with two or more microorganisms occurred in 15 per cent of diarrhoeic calves. There was no difference in the isolation rate of campylobacters between diarrhoeic and healthy calves.
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