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News Article

Study of nasal carriage of Pasteurellaceae in healthy beef calves


Healthy cattle carry commensal bacteria in their nasal passages that can become significant pathogens on occasion

Research led by academics at the University of Bristol Veterinary and Medical Schools used a One Health approach to study three bacterial species in the noses of young cattle. The findings, which combined ideas and methods from both animal and human health research, could help prevent and control respiratory diseases.

Cattle, like humans, harbour a wide range of bacteria in their noses, microbes which are normally present and probably necessary for health like those that live in the gut. However, some species of these bacteria do cause serious illness at times, particularly when infection becomes established in the lower respiratory tract within the lungs.

In a paper published in Scientific Reports, the researchers investigated the patterns of acquiring and clearing these microbes in healthy young cattle, which have not previously been studied in detail.

The research team took nasal swabs at intervals during the first year of life, to detect their presence and measure their abundance using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technique that targeted genes found in three bacterial species that can cause respiratory disease in cattle: Histophilus somni, Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida.

The researchers found the carriage patterns of the three bacteria differed remarkably. P. multocida was found in most of the animals; large numbers of bacteria were usually present, and the bacteria stayed in the nose for weeks or months. H. somni was present in up to half the animals, usually in smaller numbers and the periods it was present were shorter. M. haemolytica was rarely found although the numbers detected, when present, varied widely.

These differences are of interest because the numbers of bacteria and their duration of carriage are likely to influence their spread among healthy cattle and the likelihood of causing severe respiratory disease.

Amy Thomas, lead author who carried out the research as part of her PhD studies in Clinical Veterinary Science, said: "These techniques and results offer a way forward in understanding why and how apparently healthy cattle harbouring these bacteria may go on to develop respiratory illness and should help in finding new ways to prevent it."

Article: Thomas, A. C.; Bailey, M.; Lee, M. R. F.; Mead, A.; Morales-Aza, B.; Reynolds, R.; Vipond, B.; Finn, A.; Eisler, M. C. (2019). Insights into Pasteurellaceae carriage dynamics in the nasal passages of healthy beef calves. Scientific Reports, volume 9, Article number: 11943, doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48007-5

Article details

  • Date
  • 16 August 2019
  • Source
  • University of Bristol
  • Subject(s)
  • Food Animals