Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 February 2018

Labs probe rise in Salmonella-related abortions

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

A higher than usual number of Salmonella-related abortions was submitted to the Department of Agriculture's regional veterinary laboratories (RVLs) in November, it has been confirmed.

While there is normally a seasonal increase in abortion in autumn, Department laboratories in Dublin, Limerick and Kilkenny reported greater numbers of Salmonella-associated abortions compared to previous years.

In one case, Dublin RVL at Backweston investigated an outbreak of abortion in a dairy herd where aborted foetuses ranged in age from early to late gestation.


The farm's attending vet in this case was suspicious of Salmonella involvement because the aborting cows were febrile or feverish and some were scouring.

When foetuses were submitted to the lab one particular serotype, Salmonella Dublin, was confirmed and the farmer was advised to vaccinate the remaining cow herd.

Micheal Casey, head of the Department's regional veterinary laboratories, said there was a long-recognised link between a higher number of Salmonella Dublin cases detected and liver fluke infestation, which may partly explain the increase seen in November.

"Tunnelling immature liver fluke damage the liver and in some cases may prompt a latent pre-existing Salmonella infection to reactivate, or make animals more susceptible to picking up new infections," he said.

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"Salmonella Dublin has a long carrier state and can live in animals for months or even years without the animal showing any outward signs."

The Kilkenny and Dublin labs reported several non-abortion cases where both Salmonella species and fluke eggs were found in faeces submitted for analysis.

In one case investigated by the Backweston lab, a number of cows from a herd were affected by profuse bloody diarrhoea.

On analysis, Salmonella Dublin was isolated in one sample and liver fluke eggs were detected in another sample.

However, Mr Casey warned that just because the labs found higher numbers of Salmonella-related cases did not mean there was a higher level nationally.

"For example, it could be that farmers and vets are more aware of the signs and are sending us more suspected cases," he pointed out.

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