Ingestion of colostrum from specific cows induces Bovine Neonatal Pancytopenia (BNP) in some calves
1 Clinic for Ruminants LMU Munich, Sonnenstr. 16, 85764 Oberschleissheim, Germany
2 Bavarian Authority for Health and Food Safety, Veterinärstr. 2, 85764 Oberschleissheim, Germany
3 Bavarian Authority for Health and Food Safety, Eggenreuther Weg 43, 91058 Erlangen, Germany
BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7:10 doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-10Published: 18 February 2011
Since 2006, cases of haemorrhagic diathesis in young calves have been observed with a much higher incidence than previously known. The syndrome, now uniformly called Bovine Neonatal Pancytopenia (BNP), is characterized by multiple (external and internal) haemorrhages, thrombocytopenia, leukocytopenia, and bone marrow depletion. Although various infectious and toxicological causes of bleeding disorders in calves have been ruled out, the aetiology of BNP remains unknown. However, field observations have led to the hypothesis that the aetiological principle may be transmitted to calves via colostrum.
The objective of the present study was to verify whether ingestion of colostrum from dams of known BNP calves can elicit signs of BNP and typical haematological findings in conveniently selected neonatal calves. Six such calves received one feeding of colostrum (or a mixture of colostrum batches) from dams of known BNP calves. As controls, another six conveniently selected calves from herds which had never had a BNP case received one feeding of colostrum from their own dams. Haematological and clinical parameters were monitored.
One of the six experimental calves never showed any haematological, clinical or pathological evidence of BNP. In the other five calves, thrombocyte and leukocyte counts dropped within a few hours following ingestion of colostrum. Of those, three calves developed clinical signs of BNP, their post-mortem examination revealed bone marrow depletion. Of the remaining two calves, a pair of mixed twins, marked thrombocytopenia and recurrent leukocytopenia was evident in one, in which only slight changes in the bone marrow were detected, while in the other thrombocyte counts dropped, but rebounded later, and no bone marrow changes were noted. Thrombocyte counts of the experimental calves were statistically significantly lower than those of the control calves at 2 hours post ingestion of colostrum and at every sampling point between 9 hours and 8 days postcolostral. Leucocyte counts of the experimental calves were statistically significantly lower than those of control calves at 2 hours post ingestion of colostrum and 3-7 days postcolostral.
BNP can be induced in some calves by ingestion of colostrum from cows that have given birth to BNP calves.