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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2001 Sep 1;219(5):636-9.

Evaluation of antibiotics for treatment of cattle infected with Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar hardjo.

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  • 1Bacterial Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, National Animal Diseases Center, USDA, Ames, IA 50010, USA.



To evaluate antibiotics for treatment of cattle with leptospirosis caused by Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar hardjo.


Randomized controlled trial.


42 healthy mixed-breed cattle.


Cattle were inoculated via conjunctival instillation with L. borgpetersenii serovar hardjo. After infection and urinary shedding of L. borgpetersenii were confirmed, cattle were treated with various antibiotics. To determine effectiveness of antibiotic treatment, urinary shedding of L. borgpetersenii was monitored for 4 to 6 weeks after administration of antibiotics, using darkfield microscopic examination, microbial culture, immunofluorescence testing, and a polymerase chain reaction assay.


All inoculated cattle developed leptospirosis and shed leptospires in their urine. The following antibiotic treatments resulted in elimination of urinary shedding of leptospires: a single injection of oxytetracycline (20 mg/kg 19 mg/lb] of body weight, IM), tilmicosin (10 mg/kg [4.5 mg/lb], SC), or a combination product that contained dihydrostreptomycin-penicillin G (25 mg/kg [11.4 mg/lb], IM) or multiple injections of ceftiofur sodium (2.2 or 5 mg/kg [1 or 2.3 mg/lb], IM, once daily for 5 days, or 20 mg/kg, IM, once daily for 3 days).


Successful resolution of leptospirosis in cattle by administration of dihydrostreptomycin-penicillin G confirms results obtained by other investigators. Three other antibiotics (oxytetracycline, tilmicosin, and ceftiofur) also were effective for resolving leptospirosis and may be useful substitutes for dihydrostreptomycin, an antibiotic that is no longer available for use in food-producing animals in the United States. Cost, safety, and withdrawal times of these various treatment options need to be considered.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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