Sample Submission for Bovine Abortions

By Dr. Gordon Andrews
Originally published in the January 2015 issue.

We frequently receive phone calls this time of year for advice regarding what samples to submit for bovine abortions, so we are presenting this information as a reminder of the appropriate samples to collect for a thorough diagnostic workup.

Abomasal fluid: Place in a sterile tube and label. This sample is for the bacteriology abortion panel which includes aerobic culture, Brucella and Campylobacter.

Thoracic or pericardial fluid: Place in a sterile tube and label. This sample can be used for fetal serology for BVDV, Leptospirosis, Neospora, Bluetongue, and others. Fetal serology is a valid test to run only during the third trimester of pregnancy when the fetus is becoming immune competent.

Formalin fixed tissues: Place in leak proof formalin container. These tissues are examined microscopically for lesions indicative of an infectious cause of abortion. Brain (sections of cerebrum, cerebellum, midbrain and brainstem), heart, lung, spleen, liver, kidney, adrenal glands, thyroid gland, thymus, and skeletal muscle (3 sections from different muscle groups).

Fresh tissues: Place pooled tissues in a whirlpack bag. Fresh tissues can be used for PCR testing for specific infectious agents (Leptospira, BVDV), bacterial culture, or virus isolation. Lung, liver, kidney, lymph node, spleen, heart, and thymus.

Eye or ocular fluid: Place eye in whirpac bag, or fluid in sterile tube and label. This sample can be used for nitrate analysis if desired.

Placenta: 3-4 sections of fresh cotyledons in a separate whirlpac bag, and 3 – 4 sections of cotyledons in the formalin container. The fixed tissue is examined microscopically for evidence of placentitis. The fresh tissue can be cultured or other procedures such as bacterial culture, PCR, or virus isolation can be performed if there is microscopic evidence of placentitis.

Fresh liver: Place one large sample in a separate whirlpac bag. This sample can be used for trace mineral and vitamin A analysis if nutritional deficiency is suspected as a cause of abortion or weak born calves.

This information as well as many other case specific diagnostic workups is available on the KSVDL website: