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Arquivo Brasileiro de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

Print version ISSN 0102-0935On-line version ISSN 1678-4162

Arq. Bras. Med. Vet. Zootec. vol.52 n.2 Belo Horizonte Apr. 2000 



Occurrence of Campylobacter in the genitals of teaser bulls maintained at an embryo transfer center

[Ocorrência de Campylobacter em genitais de bovinos vasectomizados mantidos em central de transferência de embriões]


J.R. Modolo1, C.A M. Lopes2, T. Genari

1Faculdade de Medicina Veterinaria e Zootecnia - UNESP
Caixa Postal 524
18618-000 – Botucatu, São Paulo
2Instituto de Biociências – UNESP – Botucatu, São Paulo


Recebido para publicação, após modificações, em 12 de janeiro de 2000



Campylobacteriosis (vibriosis) has been reported as a widespread disease associated with bovine infertility since the 1910’s. Campylobacter fetus ssp. venerealis is transmitted to the cows during mating or by artificial insemination. The symptoms of campylobacteriosis are occasional late abortions, embryo death with return to estrus, and long estrus cycles. This disease compromises the animal productivity, causing substantial economical losses as a consequence of fewer calvings during the cow’s reproductive life, as well as longer intervals between calvings. Bulls are the natural reservoirs of the causing agents. Infection in bulls is not accompanied by clinical alterations or alterations in semen quality, which might suggest the presence of the organism in the prepuce. C. fetus ssp. venerealis lives as a parasite and does not induce any functional or structural alterations in the genitals (Samuelson & Winter, 1966; Samuelson & Elka, 1967; Mitscherlich, 1981). In consideration of these aspects, the objective of this investigation was to study the occurrence of genital campylobacteriosis in teaser bulls (bulls after vasectomy) at embryo transfer centers, in view of the importance of this disease in the bovine reproduction.

In an embryo transfer center, estrus of 37 embryo receptors was detected using four teaser bulls, being also observed that 83% of these receptors returned to estrus, and some of them showed serofibrinous discharge. The technical procedures for the clinical sample collection included intrapreputial washings performed on the teaser bulls using 50ml of sodium thioglycolate for each animal, according the recommendations of Trichard & Jacobsz (1985).

For the isolation and identification of Campylobacter, the recovered washings were taken to the laboratory under refrigeration and then centrifuged at 2,500rpm for 3min. The supernatant was filtered using a 0.65m M pore size filter (Millipore®) and five drops were smeared into plates of agar thioglycolate medium (ATM) added with 20% of defibrinated bovine blood. The same washings were additionally centrifuged for 20min, being the respective sediments smeared in plates of ATM added with brilliant green. The inoculated plates were then incubated at 37oC for 72 hours in a microaerophilic atmosphere, using a mixture of 5% CO2 and 95% N2 at 0.2atm. The suspected colonies were examined by a slide wet mount and phase-contrast microscopy (1000´), where typical spirilum movements were observed. After this preliminary screening procedure, suspicious colonies were then subcultured in Tarozzi Medium and incubated at 37oC for 72 hours to yield an inoculum compatible with the optical density of the MacFarland nº 1 scale, for a panel of biochemical tests including: catalase, growth at 25oC and 43oC, growth in 1% glycine and in 3.5% NaCl, production of H2S with and without cysteine, and reduction of sodium selenite (Bisping, 1974; Bisping et al., 1986).

Preputial washings (Table 1) revealed the presence of Campylobacter fetus ssp. venerealis in all animals. Since bulls are the natural reservoirs of this microorganism and that the genital campylobacteriosis is a venereal disease which interferes with the normal bovine reproductivity, this observation constitutes a warning for more detailed bacteriological and epidemiological studies based on the evidence that these animals are good indicators for the occurrence of the Campylobacteriosis.


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However, according our observations, the embryo transfer center affected by venereal diseases with enzootic characteristics has shown considerable reduction in reproductive efficiency resulting in substantial economical losses expressed by only 17% of success in the pregnancy rate of embryo receptors. This points to the need for more effective measures in hygiene and animal husbandry, especially those based on the use of teaser bulls with penile-prepuce translocation (Padilha & Vaske, 1980), considering that these animals even infected cannot mate and are not able to transmit the microorganism by reproduction.

Nevertheless, the growing interest in the development of new techniques for animal production have required efficient preventive measures, otherwise herds cannot reach their effective production levels, causing unexpected economical losses to producers.

Keywords: Teaser bulls, Campylobacter, Embryo Transfer Center



The authors wish to thank Ms. Tania M. Martins, and Ms. Adriana C. Pavan for technical assistance. Ms. Heloisa M. P. Toledo for the English review, and to Márcia Chiozo for the final editing of the manuscript.




Em central de transferência de embriões, após os procedimentos de reconhecimento do cio em 37 vacas receptoras, através de quatro rufiões vasectomizados, observou-se que 83% delas apresentavam retorno ao cio e algum corrimento serofibrinoso. Nos exames bacteriológicos realizados nos lavados prepuciais dos rufiões foi isolado o Campylobacter fetus subsp. venerealis em todos, fato que, analisado associadamente com o retorno ao cio das vacas receptoras, é indicativo da ocorrência de campilobacteriose no plantel. Essa ocorrência demonstra a necessidade de medidas eficazes de planejamento de saúde animal, pela utilização de rufiões com desvio lateral do pênis. Uma vez impossibilitado o contato sexual, seria impedida a transmissão do agente durante o coito. Torna-se imperioso consignar que a prática da prevenção racional de enfermidades continua sendo o procedimento mais econômico para uma produtividade animal mais rentável.

Palavras-chave: Bovino, rufião, Campylobacter fetus ssp. venerealis, Central de transferência de embriões




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