Diagnosis of Agricultural Animal
Maintenance of a profitable livestock industry depends upon
efficient animal reproduction. Diseases that interrupt pregnancy
are very costly, and control measures cannot be devised until
the cause for the reproductive loss is accurately identified.
However, identifying the cause for abortion in agricultural
animals is a diagnostic challenge for clinicians and laboratory
diagnosticians alike. The efficiency of diagnosing abortions in
laboratories around the world varies widely, at best 30-40% of
fetal submissions result in a successful abortion diagnosis.
Bovine Abortion DX
Equine & Camelid
Abortion DX Table
Ovine Abortion DX
Porcine Abortion DX
Sample Submission Check
The low success rate of abortion diagnosis occurs because:
- abortion results from an event that occurred weeks to
months earlier, and the cause is not present at the time of
- the fetus is often retained for days or weeks after
death and is expelled in a state of advanced postmortem
autolysis, making lesion identification difficult.
- the placenta, which often harbors valuable diagnostic
information, is often not available for examination.
- toxic, nutritional, hormonal, and genetic causes of
abortion are often not detectable in fetal tissues.
Despite the above limitations, abortion diagnosis can be
attained by knowledge of herd husbandry (primarily nutrition and
environment), thorough sampling for laboratory examination, and
utilization of current laboratory technology, such as PCR and
immunohistochemistry, which can greatly aid the accuracy and
rapidity of diagnosis. However, the cornerstone of consistent
abortion diagnosis will continue to be close cooperation among
livestock managers, clinicians, and laboratory diagnosticians to
uncover all clues that may lead to a specific diagnosis.
The basis for bovine and ovine abortion is diverse and includes
genetic, thermal, nutritional, toxic and infectious causes. By
far the greatest proportion of diagnosed abortions fall into the
infectious disease category, and recent technological advances
in laboratory diagnosis are heavily biased toward identification
of infectious agents. Because of the importance of either
“ruling in” or ruling out” infectious causes of abortion, the
linked guidelines will focus primarily upon investigation,
sampling, and laboratory examination to identify infectious
Abortion Diagnostic Kit
An Abortion Diagnostic Kit has been assembled for collecting
samples when it is not possible to deliver the fetus and
placenta to the Laboratory within a few hours of expulsion.
Everything needed is included except for a knife to be used to
make the original incision. Kits are available upon request from
the Laboratory for a small fee. The charge for processing the
samples is listed in the
fee schedule. Upon receiving the kit,
please remove ice packs for freezing. To maximize the
possibility of arriving at a diagnosis, please obtain samples as
outlined in the “abortion sampling” form. Also complete a field
history on the “abortion accession” form. Package all materials
(put paperwork in a separate waterproof bag within the abortion
kit) and send with coolant to WADDL by the quickest means.