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Am J Vet Res. 1986 Jul;47(7):1542-50.

Effects of microbial and host variables on the interaction of rotavirus and Escherichia coli infections in gnotobiotic calves.


Naturally occurring mixed infections with Escherichia coli and rotavirus have been associated with fatal diarrhea of calves about 1 week old. Experiments were designed to reproduce this syndrome in gnotobiotic calves. Clinical, microbiological, and pathologic data were used to assess severity of disease and mechanisms of the interaction between the 2 infections. An initial study involved 5- to 8-day-old gnotobiotic calves inoculated with a strain of enterotoxigenic E coli (ETEC) and a strain of rotavirus. Calves were observed for 2 days after they were inoculated; fatal diarrhea was not produced. In later studies, variables were tested to identify those that might contribute to fatal diarrhea. Variables which did not result in fatal or severe diarrhea or which did not cause disease that was more severe in dually inoculated calves than that in monoinoculated calves were increasing feed to 2 times base line, increasing dose of ETEC to 10 times base line, inoculating calves when they were 2 days old, using a strain of E coli that causes colisepticemia, and using a different strain of rotavirus. When the observation period was extended from 2 days to 6 days after calves were inoculated, severe, watery, fatal diarrhea occurred in 6 of 12 calves by 32 to 72 hours after dual inoculation was given. Fatal diarrhea was associated with intensive colonization by the ETEC in the caudal half of the small intestine. Microscopic lesions were similar between dually inoculated and rotavirus-monoinoculated calves, except there was more severe atrophy of ileal villi of dually inoculated calves.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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