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Am J Vet Res. 1976 Jul;37(7):803-5.

Bacteriologic and vaccination studies in a field epizootic of infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis in calves.


Infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) was enzootic in the beef cattle herds at Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, University of Illinois. The development of nonhemolytic and hemolytic Moraxella bovis flora in the eyes of 48 calves in a closed cow-calf herd was monitored from late May to October, 1972. The incidence of clinical IBK was recorded each week. In late May, nonhemolytic M bovis was isolated from 26% of calf eyes. The peak incidence of IBK was observed in early September, with 26% of the eyes affected. At that time, nonhemolytic M bovis was isolated from 10% of the eyes, and hemolytic M bovis from 58%. By late October, nonhemolytic M bovis was isolated from 25% of the eyes, and hemolytic M bovis from only 4%. In an attempt to increase the resistance of ocular tissue, 19 calves were vaccinated in each third eyelid with 0.5 ml of an autogenous M bovis bacterin in late May. Vaccination did not provide practical protection against the establishment of hemolytic M bovis in the eyes nor the development of clinical IBK. However, at the peak incidence of IBK, hemolytic M bovis was isolated from the eyes of 48% of vaccinated calves and 73% of nonvaccinated calves; clinical IBK was present in 21% of the eyes of vaccinated calves and 29% of nonvaccinated calves. In evaluating the in vitro proteolytic potential of M bovis isolates, 83 hemolytic and 5 nonhemolytic isolates peptonized litmus milk; 176 nonhemolytic isolates did not peptonize litmus milk. Hemolytic M bovis isolates were more pathogenic for mice than were nonhemolytic isolates. Of 60 mice, 53 (88%) died in 1 to 3 hours after intraperitoneal inoculation of hemolytic isolates; 8 of 32 (25%) mice died in 5 to 15 hours after inoculation of nonhemolytic isolates. Hemolytic M bovis isolates produced testicular swelling and scrotal necrosis after inoculation into the scrotal sac of rabbits; nonhemolytic isolates produced only mild transient testicular swelling.

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