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Presence of digital dermatitis treponemes on cattle and sheep hoof trimming equipment


Digital dermatitis (DD) is an infectious foot disease causing severe lameness in dairy cattle (worldwide) and sheep (UK). This study investigated whether DD Treponema phylogroups can be present on equipment used to trim ruminant hooves and, therefore, consider this trimming equipment as a possible vector for the transmission of DD. Equipment was tested after being used to trim DD symptomatic and asymptomatic cattle and sheep hooves, and subsequently after disinfection of equipment. After trimming, ‘Treponema medium/Treponema vincentii-like’, ‘Treponema phagedenis-like’ and ‘Treponema denticola/T putidum-like’ DD spirochaetes, were shown to be present on 23/37 (62%), 21/37 (57%) and 20/37 (54%) of knives, respectively. After disinfection, detection rates for the DD treponemes were 9/37 (24%), 6/37 (16%) and 3/37 (8%), respectively. Following culture of a swab, an isolate belonging to the T phagedenis-like spirochaetes was identified from a knife sample after trimming a DD positive cow. No isolates were obtained from knife samples after disinfection. This new data has, for the first time, identified treponemes in the farm environment, and highlighted disinfection of hoof trimming equipment between animals and between farms, as a logical precaution to limit the spread of DD.

  • Lameness
  • Spirochetes
  • Cattle
  • Sheep
  • Infectious diseases

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