May 29, 2017

(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hey, folks. Welcome to DocTalk. We got our first two hats mailed to us. Remember, you can mail hats and we’ll put them on the show. Today, we’ll have a great show. It’s about early term abortions in beef cattle with Dr. Kelli Almes. We’re going to talk about a lot of good things about what could cause them, some things you can do to prevent them and, if you’re going to take samples, what you might send into the D-lab. Thanks for being here this morning. Thanks for sending your hats. We’ll see you here after message.

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(Dan) Dr. Almes, welcome to the show. (Dr. Kelli Almes) Thanks for having me. (Dan) Folks, this is Dr. Kelli Almes. She is a pathologist here at Kansas State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory where she is working with many different diseases, many different types of animals, producers, different settings. Today, we’re going to talk about early term abortion in cows. (Kelli) That’s right, Dan. We see a lot of, mostly, late term abortions at the Diagnostic Lab but, obviously, there’s a lot that don’t end up with a full-sized calf that we see in the lab. There are still a lot of things that we try to talk about with producers. One of the things that we really struggle to talk to veterinarians and producers about is noninfectious causes of abortion. Everybody wants there to be an infectious disease there for a treatment and something to do to prevent it. (Dan) Give me a vaccine right, let’s manage this with a bottle. (Kelli) Right. Unfortunately, in the majority of abortion cases, that’s not really what happens, especially the early ones, so a lot of heat stress as we heat up this time of year, transport, moving to pasture, moving around, inappropriate vaccination which does result in somewhat of an infectious cause but really it’s a management issue. Then something that doesn’t really, it’s not infectious to the calf, but anaplasmosis, just causing systemic disease in the cow resulting in a lot of early-term abortion or embryonic loss. (Dan) In other words, we’re talking about stress for the most part whether it’s stress on the cow and things that farmers and ranchers could be doing to prevent stress or try help keep those pregnancies. (Kelli) Yes, proper nutrition, another big one, trace minerals things like that. (Dan) Absolutely, well when we start to talk about, obviously, with the heat stress and moving cattle, then probably looking at thermal heat index and things that you’re going to be able to measure instead transporting those cows on a hot day, maybe we want to look to move those cattle when it’s a little bit cooler, when we’re not building the heat load in them. (Kelli) Yes. There’s been a lot of studies out there that say that even prolonged– the heat doesn’t have to happen right then but the eggs are lower quality in the ovary even before breeding from heat stress. You can see sort of long term effects from that. It doesn’t have to be an immediate thing. (Dan) Okay, how do we determine some of these noninfectious? What do you do as a pathologist working through some of these cases? (Kelli) In terms of management in the noninfectious causes, it’s really a lot more in the hands of the practitioner, your local veterinarian. It’s really hard for us to identify those factors. A lot of times, we don’t get a really extensive history so it’s really important for the producer to work with their veterinarians so that they know their vaccination schedule. They’re familiar with their farm, the way they move their cattle, where they have them, how they’re housed, the things that we’re not going to find out about here. (Dan) Probably, you’re going to get some samples from a veterinarian. There’s nothing going on with a pathogen. Now, we go back to, “Okay, what are some of the noninfectious and let’s backtrack through the case.” Obviously, prevention is the key. When we start to look at the time of branding and turnout and it seems like, “Man, I can’t believe how far we’ve trucked some of these cows to grass,” we just need to work together. (Kelli) Yes. (Dan) Well, let’s take a break. When we come back, we’re going to talk more with Dr. Almes about maybe some of the infectious causes. I didn’t mention we have our hats up here. We got our first people to send in some of the hat, Rezac Land & Cattle Company and Hoxie Feedlot, along with the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Anyway, send us your hat at the address below. More from DocTalk after these messages.

(Dan) Hey, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Kelli Almes. We’re at Kansas State University in the College of Veterinary Medicine where Dr. Almes is one of the pathologists here at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. When you and your veterinarian or if you’re a veterinarian, you send your cases in, this is obviously one of the experts that you want handling your case. We’re talking about early-term abortions and great information on the noninfectious which we don’t think about very often. We just ram and jam and got to get the job done. Now, let’s talk about some of the things that maybe are more what we think about. (Kelli) Infectious, yes. Bovine viral diarrhea, BVD virus, there’s the big one, right? Early infection in-utero can cause embryonic loss. A lot of times, the things that we’re talking about with early loss, sometimes we don’t even know that it’s happened until later on down the road. It’s really hard to diagnose at that point as well. That makes everything a little bit more difficult. Campylobacter, not a super common cause in beef cattle but we can see it. It usually causes infection in a cow, which then causes her to lose the calf really early. Leptospirosis, another one that usually causes just infertility or poor conception rates, maybe not so much an abortion after the fact. They just never get pregnant or they fail to settle. Then trich, obviously, which is a really big one, being a reportable diseases. We’ve had a few new counties identified within the state recently. Those are the four big infectious ones really that we think about with early loss. Then you can always have sporadic fungal and bacterial infections that there’s really no way to predict or that those are going to happen. (Dan) Right, a lot of times that’ll be weird weather patterns for your region or something like that. Talk to me a little bit about what are some of the clinical signs. Do they just basically open cows when we go to preg check? (Kelli) Yes, open cows and then, even worse than that is if maybe you don’t do a good job of preg checking, so maybe they haven’t identified who’s open or not open. You just have a long calving period. You have cows calving quite aways after you should be done. That’s really kind of another common sign to say that they were probably pregnant once, lost the calf, got pregnant again, and now you’ve extended your calving season of that year. (Dan) Obviously, working your veterinarian is extremely important. Even this preg checking can lead you to an earlier understanding so that you, maybe, can manage some of the risks financially over prolonged calving season that’s coming. (Kelli) Exactly. Like I mentioned with BVDs, if there is infection early and they lose the calf, if you don’t identify that until the end of this season, you’re probably going to have almost an impossible time identifying what the agent was if there was an infectious agent. It’s come and gone in the cow by that time and so you’re not going to be able to find it. (Dan) I think that too some of these new technologies, not trying to take away the job but new technologies of blood pregnancy tests and things to that nature, we might be able to start getting even earlier pregnancy tests in cows. They’re doing it with even a milk sample or a blood sample, either one. There might be some things, as you’re pulling them off of summer grass, that you can do. Let’s take a break. When we come back, we’re going to talk about some of the things that you can do to work with your veterinarian on prevention of having these types of issues. You’re watching DocTalk. We’re glad you joined us, and we’re going tot take a break. We’ll come right back to spend more time with you.

(Dan) Hey, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Kelli Almes here with me, Dr. Dan Thomson. We’re at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine where Dr. Almes is one of our pathologists at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory seeing a lot of cases. When we think about sending cases in to the Diagnostic Lab because that’s one thing I think that we don’t get enough done is that we could glean so much information to prevent the issue through doing the proper diagnosis. My dad used to say that it was easier to sell out vaccine for a few thousand dollars than to sell a diagnosis for a few dollars. We’ve got to get back to that. What are you looking for in these types of cases? (Kelli) Probably, the one thing that’s best when we’re talking early loss, so we don’t have a calf that you’re testing on, so if it’s later on down the road and you have a fetus to bring in or your veterinarian’s going to take samples and send those in for you, that’s a little bit easier to deal with. Really, some of the things you can do with early loss, obviously, trich testing of bulls which is required if you move or sell, all of those different stipulations but we do have a serology panel. There are a lot of places that will have what they call a bovine abortion panel taking into account the common agents. The problem with that is we typically either don’t identify it early enough to get the sample when we need to or we only get one sample. One sample doesn’t give you a lot of information. We really need paired serum samples, three to four weeks apart, so that we know if they’ve had a rise or a fall in titer depending on when you identify that they have lost it. (Dan) Let’s go back to the titer. The reason why we do the titer or the reason why we do it two to four weeks apart is that there’s a delayed response. When you say serology, you’re really measuring were they infected by something that caused an immune response, and it takes that two to four weeks before you can measure that change? (Kelli) Yes. (Dan) You can do the test at the time of the abortion and have really low antibody or titers, but if you wait two to four weeks, then that’ll show up. (Kelli) Yes, that’s exactly right. The opposite way of that to look at it would be that if they didn’t identify exactly when the abortion happened, you could take that initial sample. If there was a high titer, then two to four weeks later, you can see if it falls. You can see if they had built it before or if they’re building it after. If you don’t know exactly the timeline of things, sometimes that works out. (Dan) I think that’s important to know. I think serology is an important tool that we can use in these types of cases, and we tend to use it more on them. Other things as far as samples coming into you and the things that you see that you don’t like or things that we got to make sure that we do correctly to get the best answer? (Kelli) If we’re talking about a full abortion workup, we really have sort of a set of tissues that we want and things we don’t need. I guess we could look at it that way. We really, in a full workup, like to have a set of fresh tissues from the fetus and a set of fixed tissues in formalin from the fetus. The reason we like to do that is because, yes, we have all of our great PCR testing and cultures and all of those types of things, but there’s still some things that we need to look under the microscope to decide if there is a lesion or not. We really like to have those fixed tissues as well. Bacterial culture on the abomasal fluid is the number one thing that we probably don’t get. If there’s going to be a bacterial cause there and/or sometimes fungal, that’s why we’re going to find it. (Dan) Really? (Kelli) Yes. (Dan) Well, I think it’s important that you work with your veterinarian get the right set of, obviously you’re providing CE to practitioners for tissues. (Kelli) Yes, we have it posted on our website all the time and, yes, we try to get that out there as much as we can. (Dan) Perfect. Well, folks when we come back, we’re talk about preventing these abortions with Dr. Kelli Almes more after these messages.

(Dan) Hey, folks, welcome back to DocTalk, Dr. Dan Thomson and Dr. Kelli Almes. We’re from Kansas State University at the College of Veterinary Medicine where Dr. Almes is a pathologist in our Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. You have some numbers. We always like numbers. (Kelli) Numbers are good. Yes, we looked at all the bovine abortion submissions from the calendar year of 2016, which doesn’t really go along with calving season but it’s one of the best ways we have to search the data that we have. It’s very cyclical, the numbers of submissions we get each year. A lot of that has to do with the price of cattle. If they’re worth more, more diagnostics are typically done. We had quite a few submissions last year, over 150 bovine abortions. We got a definitive diagnosis. We are comfortable that’s the exact cause in 55 of those. It’s hovering between 30 and 35%, which is – (Dan) That’s actually pretty good. (Kelli) – out the average of diagnostic labs, yes. Last year, like I said, we had 55. Bacterial and viral were the highest two causes with IBR being up there. We don’t get a lot of follow up sometimes, but we’re very suspicious a lot of times due to the little history that we do get is that it was potentially inappropriate vaccine administration during pregnancy but we don’t know for sure. A lot of times, like I said, we don’t get that great of follow up. (Dan) We’re talking about prevention too. It gets into the killed versus modified-live on bred cows and things to that – (Kelli) Right, or just making sure you’re following the timeline of administration for the modified-live. If you read and you use it properly, then you should be fine. It’s the ones that, if they’re heifers, especially, we’ve seen it a little bit more. It just depends on – (Dan) Talk to your veterinarian. He or she will know exactly what we’re talking about. Always work through them. If you’re just going in and buying the vaccine at the farm store and you’re vaccinating because you caught them, you might be doing more harm than you are good. (Kelli) Very much so, very much so. Like I said, bacterial and viral are about the same. Last year, we saw a mix of bacteria with some streps and salmonella. Like I said, those are the really just sporadic, one at a time sort of thing. That’s not an infectious thing that’s going to wipe out much of your herd but they’re still important causes. It’s important to identify what it is to make sure that it’s not something infectious that’s going to spread. (Dan) Yes. I take that you’re working with veterinarians, you’re helping veterinarians not just in Kansas but around the region understand what these abortions are being caused by, providing CE, things to that nature? (Kelli) Yes. We try. We’ve got some YouTube videos on our website with staple collection. Especially last year, we developed two new tests geared towards bovine abortion. We did a PCR panel that’s done on tissue and then we came up with the serology panel especially if we’re talking about the cows that abort early and you don’t have the fetus for testing. We tried to do some email blasts last year, put it up on our website, and just get it out there some of our outreach activities. (Dan) Perfect. Well, thanks for all you do. Thanks for being on the show. (Kelli) Thanks for having me. (Dan) Thank you for watching DocTalk. Remember; always work with your local veterinarian. If you want to know more about what we do at DocTalk, you can find us on the web at I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. Thanks for joining us today and I’ll see you down the road.

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