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Association between antibodies to Coxiella burnetii in bulk tank milk and perinatal mortality of Danish dairy calves
Katrine T Nielsen, Søren S Nielsen, Jens F Agger, Anna-Bodil Christoffersen and Jørgen S Agerholm

Background: Coxiella burnetii is a well-known cause of placentitis and subsequent abortion in ruminants, but there are no reports on the relationship with perinatal mortality. The study was performed to determine the influence of level and change of bulk tank milk (BTM) antibodies to C. burnetii on two outcomes associated with parturition in cattle: a) stillbirth; and b) stillbirth and neonatal mortality combined (perinatal death).


Method: Twenty-four Danish dairy herds were tested repeatedly for antibodies to C. burnetii in BTM using a commercial ELISA. Samples were collected monthly from July 2008 to July 2009. Information on the 2,362 calvings occurring in the study period was obtained from the Danish Cattle Database. Two multilevel logistic regression models were created for the two outcomes stillbirth and perinatal mortality. One model included the level of BTM antibodies in a specified period before or after the outcome had occurred. The other model included the change in antibodies over time. These predictors were included both at herd and animal level. Furthermore, all models included parity and breed.


Results: The individual monthly BTM antibody levels were highly correlated within herds. Consequently, changes in BTM antibody levels were not found to be associated with neither risk of stillbirth nor the risk of perinatal mortality. However, the risk of stillborn calves and perinatal death was higher with high level of BTM antibodies 8 to 9 months after the incident, but not outside this period.


Conclusion: We conclude that the level of antibodies to C. burnetii in BTM may be associated with perinatal mortality, but the association was not persistent and should be investigated further.



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Article made possible through the contribution of Katrine T Nielsen, Søren S Nielsen, Jens F Agger, Anna-Bodil Christoffersen, Jørgen S Agerholm and BioMed Central.

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