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Vet Microbiol. 2004 Nov 15;103(3-4):209-17.

Distribution of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in organs of naturally infected bull-calves and breeding bulls.

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Veterinary Research Institute, Hudcova 70, 621 32 Brno, Czech Republic.


Paratuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, has particular importance in cattle due to the resulting chronic diarrhoea, weight loss, decreased production, infertility and eventual death. While faecal oral route of infection is generally recognised, reports about semen-derived infection are rare. The objective of this work was to assess whether M.a. paratuberculosis may disseminate from the gastrointestinal tract to reproductive organs, and compare this event between naturally infected bull-calves and breeding bulls. Ten bull-calves, aged 6-28 weeks and four breeding bulls were tested by serology, faecal and tissue culture, IS900 PCR and RFLP. In seven bull-calves M.a. paratuberculosis was isolated predominantly from mesenteric lymph nodes (75%); isolates from mucosa of the intestine constituted 25%. In three breeding bulls, M.a. paratuberculosis was isolated both from intestinal mucosa and mesenteric lymph nodes. Head and mediastinal lymph nodes, liver, spleen and semen of bull no. 1 (Holstein-Friesian); testes and epididymis of bull no. 2 (Piemonte); testes, epididymides and seminal vesicle of bull No. 3 (Hereford); and seminal vesicle of bull No. 4 (Simmental) tested positive by culture. Hot-start PCR revealed M.a. paratuberculosis in semen, seminal vesicle and intestinal tissue where culture isolation was difficult. Isolates from bull-calves and breeding bulls were of RFLP types B-C9 and B-C1, respectively. Bull-calves born in infected herd can be sources of infection when later used for natural mating or artificial insemination. Sub-clinically infected bulls release M.a. paratuberculosis into semen, consequently infecting the uterine environment of cows.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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