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Digital dermatitis in beef cattle
  1. L. E. Sullivan1,
  2. S. D. Carter1,
  3. R. Blowey2,
  4. J. S. Duncan3,
  5. D. Grove-White3 and
  6. N. J. Evans1
  1. 1Department of Infection Biology, School of Veterinary Science, Institute of infection and Global Health, Liverpool, Merseyside L3 5RF, UK
  2. 2University of Liverpool & Wood Veterinary Group, Gloucester GL2 4NB, UK
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Neston, Wirral CH64 7TE, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: l.sullivan{at}

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Digital dermatitis (DD) is an ulcerative lesion of the bovine digital skin (Cheli and Mortellaro 1974) which causes severe lameness in dairy cattle. The disease can have considerable economic impact through reduced reproductive performance, weight loss and the costs of treatment and control. The primary causative agents of DD in dairy cattle are considered to be spirochetal bacteria of the genus Treponema (Evans and others 2011). Recently, the disease has been identified to be polytreponemal in aetiology (Klitgaard and others 2008), and in the UK and USA, three phylotypes have been isolated from dairy cattle lesions (Evans and others 2008, Stamm and others 2002), and described as ‘Treponema medium/Treponema vincentii-like’, ‘Treponema phagedenis-­like’ and ‘Treponema denticola/T putidum-like’ BDD spirochaetes (Evans and others 2008) with the latter now recognised as a new species, Treponema pedis (Evans and others 2009).

DD has been reported in dairy cattle in nearly all countries where they are farmed, and the disease has spread to sheep in the UK (Harwood and others 1997). There have been anecdotal reports of DD lesions in beef cattle and of increased prevalence in recent years, but only the abattoir studies of Brown and others (2000) in southeast USA has actually reported the disease in beef cattle. There have been no definitive published case reports in the UK or elsewhere; these will be a …

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  • Provenance: not commissioned; externally peer reviewed

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