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J Comp Pathol. 1996 Feb;114(2):107-122.

Description and classification of different types of lesion associated with natural paratuberculosis infection in sheep.

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Departamento de Patología Animal, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain.


Paratuberculosis lesions in naturally infected sheep were classified histologically. Adult sheep (n = 166) culled for various reasons, from four flocks in which clinical cases of the disease had occurred, were studied. Eight-two sheep (49.4%) showed lesions that could be divided into three main categories. Type 1 lesions, found in 24.1% of these animals, consisted of small granulomata formed by macrophages and were located exclusively in the ileocaecal Peyer's patch. In type 2 lesions, found in 4.8% of the sheep, granulomata were also observed in the mucosa associated with Peyer's patches. Type 3 lesions were characterized by granulomata in areas of the mucosa associated with, and also distinct from, the Peyer's patches. Three subtypes of type 3 lesions were recognized. In subtype 3a, found in 4.2% of the sheep, multifocal granulomata appeared in different areas of the lamina propria; they were not apparently associated with lymphoid tissue, and neither did they modify the morphology of the affected areas. Subtype 3b, found in 13.9% of animals, consisted of large numbers of macrophages, widespread in the lamina propria; in subtype 3c (2.4% of sheep) lymphocytes were the main inflammatory cell, with some macrophages scattered amongst them. In subtypes 3a and b, villi were distended and the mucosa appeared thickened. Mycobacteria could be demonstrated in tissue sections from all the samples with subtype 3b lesions and in almost all of those with type 2 and 3a lesions; these organisms were absent or sparse, however, in type 1 and 3c lesions. Macroscopical lesions were clearly visible only in sheep with type 3b and 3c lesions. Mycobacterium paratuberculosis was cultured from all the animals with type 3 lesions, from 87.5% of those with type 2 lesions, and from 47.5% of those with type 1. Type 3b lesions resembled the "borderline-lepromatous" form of mycobacterial lesions, whereas type 3c lesions resembled the "borderline-tuberculoid" form. The relationship between intestinal lymphoid tissue and paratuberculosis lesions is discussed, and the diagnostic importance of histological examination of the ileocaecal valve emphasized.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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