H Amer. Some Diagnostic And Treatment Considerations On Aborted Ewes. The Internet Journal of Veterinary Medicine. 2007 Volume 4 Number 2.
This study aimed to investigate the serum, vaginal discharge of aborted ewes and stomach contents of aborted feti to throw the light on some factors causing abortion in ewes, beside to the effect of abortion on postpartum uterine rebound. This study conducted on 10 aborted ewes at 3rd to 4th month of pregnancy [aborted group] from a sheep flock [n=50] at the farm of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Zagazig University, and on another 10 healthy pregnant ewes at the same stage of pregnancy [control group]. The levels of some plasma elements [vitamin E, selenium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and total protein] in the blood of aborted and control ewes were estimated. Swabs from the vaginal discharge and stomach contents of the aborted ovine feti were cultured for bacterial identification and antibiotic sensitivity. The completion of uterine involution [days] and uterine regression [cm] were assessed by B-mode Ultrasound Scanner [Pie-Medical Scanner-240] with a linear rectal transducer of 6-8 MHz as indicated by the transversal diameter and the presence of uterine lumen. This study showed that, the concentration of vitamin E, selenium, copper, phosphorus and magnesium were significantly lower (P<0.05) in aborted ewes than in the control. However, there was no significant difference in zinc and total protein levels between the two groups. The most prevalent bacterial isolates from the vaginal discharge were corynebacterium spp. [87.5%], staph. spp. [75%] and strept. spp. [62.5%], while the isolates from stomach contents of the aborted feti
were corynebacterium spp. [100%], followed by staph. spp., strept. spp., and anthracoid [50%/each]. The bacterial isolates were highly sensitive to procaine penicillin-G [100%] followed by dihydro-streptomycin sulphate [90%], gentamycin [80%] and ciprofloxacin [50%]. After normal delivery [control group], 7 swabs [70%] from the vaginal discharge showed E. coli and 5 swabs [50%] showed anthracoid isolates. The uterine involution in ewes completed on day 24 postpartum in spontaneously delivered ewes [control] without more measurable decrease, but it delayed in the aborted ewes to day 36 postpartum (P<0.05). Spontaneously delivered ewes showed a physiological regression of the uterus with a transversal diameter of 5.55(+/-0.02) cm on day 1, decreased to 1.87(+/-0.02) cm on day 24 postpartum [complete involution], while aborted ewes showed a uterine regression with transversal diameter of 5.89(+/-0.04) cm on day 1, decreased to 3.87(+/-0.01) cm on day 24, and delayed to 1.23(+/-0.01) cm on day 36 postpartum [complete involution].
This study concluded that the deficiency of some vitamins and minerals in the pregnant ewes may reduce the defense mechanism and increase the susceptibility of animal to infection during pregnancy which may lead to abortion, as well as delay the uterine rebound [involution or regression] after abortion.
Abortion is one of great concern to the farmers due to loss of newborn, loss of fertility or even sterility resulting from prolonged uterine diseases and secondary bacterial infection of the genital tract. Single factor or combination of many factors may cause abortion in sheep. Trace elements may act as coenzymes, or stabilizers of secondary molecular structure. Their function has evolved from recognition of their essential function in cell metabolism. There has been special interest in effects of dietary trace element deficiencies on physiological function, particularly reproduction. Severe dietary deficiencies of trace elements including copper, selenium and zinc are commonly seen in ruminants. Hidiroglou (1979 and Minson (1990) suggested the presence of a close link between plasma levels of some vitamins and elements in aborted ewes and the reproductive performance. The deficiency of vit. E and selenium [Se] may cause nutritional muscular dystrophy or white muscle disease in young ruminants (Combs and Combs, 1986) and congenital death if it occurs before birth (McDowel, 1989; Combs and Combs, 1986; Norton and Campbell, 1990). Cu joins in formation of many enzyme systems and its deficiencies may result in those metabolic and clinical symptoms related to these enzymes. Phosphorus has been long recognized as an essential mineral for bone development, reproduction and energy transfer (Hidiroglou, 1979; Minson, 1990). In addition, Zn, Cu and Se transfer at high rates from pregnant ewes to fetus (Minson, 1990) and therefore, deficiencies of these elements may be a cause of ewe abortion.
The uterine infections, which are usually nonspecific, can reduce reproductive efficiency of ruminant livestock. The incidence and consequences of uterine infections are documented far more extensively for dairy cattle than for beef cattle, sheep, or goats (Lewis, 1997; Leontides et al., 2000). However, circumstances associated with increased risk of uterine infections in dairy cattle, such as dystocia, assisted births, retained fetal membranes, and unsanitary conditions at parturition, are common in sheep and predispose them to uterine infections (Fthenaki et al., 2000; Leontides et al., 2000).
During the postpartum period, the sheep should reestablish the functionality of the reproductive system and prepare for a new pregnancy. This includes uterine involution and resumption of cyclic ovarian activity. The finishing of uterine involution is a prerequisite to the maintenance of pregnancy. The time estimated for the completion of uterine involution in sheep varies between 17 and 40 days (Call et al., 1976, Kucharski et al., 1989, Rubianes and Ungerfeld, 1993, Rubianes et al., 1996). Many factors, such as dystocia, retention of fetal membranes, suckling, breed and season are implicated for the course of uterine involution (Bostedt, 1988; Rubianes and Ungerfeld, 1993; Rubianes et al., 1996). The evaluation of uterine involution based only on clinical examination is insufficient, because the uterus in sheep can not be palpated per rectum. Recently, the use of ultrasonography for the control of the uterine involution in sheep has been described (Hauser and Bostedt, 2002). This study aimed to recognize on some causes of abortion in sheep flock by investigation the level of some plasma elements [vit. E, Se, Zn, Cu, P, Mg and total protein], bacteriological identification of the vaginal discharge of aborted ewes and stomach contents of aborted feti, as well as the course of uterine rebound [time of uterine involution/days and uterine regression/cm in aborted ewes] after abortion and spontaneous delivery.
Materials And Methods
This study was conducted on 10 aborted ewes (between 3rd to 4th months of pregnancy) from a sheep flock [n=50] in the farm of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Zagazig University. Another 10 healthy pregnant ewes at the same stage of pregnancy were used as a control group [selected from a number of replaced ewes in the flock]. The age of animals ranged between 2 to 4 years and weighing between 35 to 45 kg at the sampling time. All the animals were serologically negative to brucellosis when screened by Rose Bengal Plate Test, and toxoplasmosis when screened by Latex Agglutination Test [Quimica Clinica Aplica DA-SA. CN 340 km/1081-Pa Box 20 E 438-70 Amposta/Spain], and free from internal and external parasites through the periodical external inspection and fecal examination.
Jugular blood samples from the aborted ewes (within 2-4 hours after abortion) and control ewes were taken using vacutainer tubes, and the plasma was extracted and stored -20°C. The control ewes were randomly selected from the flock and kept until ultrasonographical examination after spontaneous delivery. Vaginal swabs [8 samples from the aborted ewes and 10 samples from the control ewes], as well as stomach contents [2 samples] from the aborted feti; were collected on nutrient broth for the bacteriological identification.
Plasma level of vit. E (Kayden et al., 1973) was determinated spectrophotometricaly. Selenium level was determined with the method of Whetter and Ullrey (1978) using a spectroflouremeter. Zinc and Copper were determined according to Hudrik et al. (1983) by using atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Magnesium was determinated with titan yellow method described by Aras and Ersen (1975). Plasma phosphorus and total protein concentrations were measured with autoanalyser (Technicon RA-XT).
The aborted and control ewes were administered i.m. 5 ml daily for 5 consecutive days of Pen-Strep aqueous suspension [200,000 iu Procaine Penicillin-G and 20 mg/ml Dihydro-streptomycin Sulphate, GIBCO Co.]; according to the sensitivity test; in addition to Adevit-C [AD3E, Vit. A 50,000 iu – Vit. D3 25,000 iu – Vit. E acetate 20 mg/ml] 3 cm i.m. weekly; Copper sulphate 1/10000 [1gm/10 lb]; Minerals blocks for free licking. After treatment, the animals were rebred and noticed throughout the gestational period.
Ultrasonographic monitoring of the uterine rebound
The ultrasonographic examination was carried out on day-1 and up to day-36 after abortion or spontaneous delivery to examine the time of uterine involution [days] and uterine regression [cm].
Ultrasonographic investigations were performed by using a Real Time B-mode Ultrasound Scanner (Pie-Medical Scanner, Genius-240) with a linear-array [transrectal probe] of 6-8 MHz. The animals were examined in standing position after the removal of the fecal matter. The probe fixed to an extension rod was inserted into the rectum. For scanning of the uterus, the probe was moved approximately 60° to each side around its longitudinal axis. Parameters for the evaluation of the time required for uterine involution and uterine regression were estimated including the transversal diameter of uterine horns of 2 cm and the lack of contents in the uterine cavity (Anderson et al., 1997). Ultrasonographic images of the uterus were documented by a video graphic printer (Mitsubishi P67E).
Analysis of the data was performed using SAS analysis system package (Littel et al., 1991). Significant differences between the means were evaluated utilizing Duncan's Multiple Rang Test (DMRT) (Duncan, 1955).
The results showed that, the level of vit. E, Se, Cu and Mg in the plasma of aborted ewes was significantly lower (P<0.05) than the control group [
All the samples of vaginal discharge and stomach contents of the aborted ovine feti revealed bacterial isolates [
The postpartum uterus was well identified by its typical ultrasonographic pattern [
The treatment protocol was associated with reduction in the incidence of abortion among the pregnant ewes. Moreover, the aborted ewes that were rebred after treatment became pregnant with no gestational problems and complete the pregnancy period till gave normal birth in the next season.
Status of vitamin E, Se, Cu, P and Mg levels in plasma of aborted ewes were significantly lower than the control group, but Zn and total protein levels were almost the same in both groups with no significant differences. The lower levels of Se and vit. E in the aborted ewes than in the control ewes is supported by results of those (Scales, 1974; Taylor et al., 1979; Stuart and Oehme, 1982; Kott et al., 1983). The deficiency of vit. E and Se may cause nutritional muscular dystrophy or white muscle disease in young ruminants (Combs and Combs, 1986) and congenital death if it occurs before birth (McDowel, 1989; Norton and Campbell, 1990). Also, there was a relationship between Se deficiency and bovine abortions (Taylor et al., 1979). However, Stuart and Oehme (1982) noted that a cause of abortion in cows and sows in North America was due to Se deficiency. New Zealand study showed that in areas where nutritional muscular dystrophy in lambs is severe, a high proportion of the ewes are barren. But feeding Se reduced embryonic mortality from 26 to 3% (Hartley, 1963). In the South Island of New Zealand, Se deficiency decreased the proportion of ewes that conceived by 9 and 15% when they were fed with a diet rich in Se (Scales, 1974). Kott et al. (1983) reported that pre weaning survival of lambs was increased by ewe treating with either Se and/or vit. E.
The low Copper content in diet of the ewes either prevented implantation or induced embryonic loss and fetal death (McChowell, 1968). In a study (Hidiroglou, 1979), nine ewes were fed a severely Cu deficient diet; five of which did not become pregnant and died between 23 and 34 weeks of the experiment and; of the remaining four ewes, two aborted and two produced stillborn lambs. However, copper is essential element for ruminants and its deficiencies occur in grazing animals in many parts of the world. Cu joins in formation of many enzyme systems and thus its deficiencies may reflect some metabolic and clinical symptoms related to these enzymes. Unanian and Feliciano-Silva (1984) informed that Cu status in aborted goats was lower and high incidence of early abortion could be associated with deficiency in copper. In addition, Anke et al. (1977) reported that Cu deficiency in ruminants caused abortion. In this study, the low level of Cu in aborted ewes than in control ewes come in agreement with the reports of McChowell et al. (1968), Anke et al. (1977), Hidiroglou (1979), and Unanian and Feliciano-Silva (1984).
The high incidence of early abortion in goats could be associated with deficiencies in P, Mg and total protein as reported by Unanian and Feliciano-Silva (1984). In the present study, status of Mg and P were significantly lower in aborted ewes than in non aborted ones which coincide with Unanian and Feliciano-Silva (1984) and Lylod et al. (1993). However, in contrast to the result of Unanian and Feliciano-Silva (1984), total protein levels in this study wasn't differ among two groups. Naturally occurring Zn deficiency is rare in livestock. In general, Zn may play a role in the reproductive processes has been obtained primarily from studies on experimentally induced Zn deficiencies (Hidiroglou, 1979). Pond and Wallece (1986) informed that there was no effect of dietary Zn supplementation on survival lambs. In this study, Zn status of ewes didn't statistically differ between two groups. This observation was confirmed by the results of Hidiroglou (1979) and Pond and Wallece (1986). Subsequently, the aborted ewes in this flock characterized by reduction in the levels of vit. E, selenium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and it may play a role causing abortion in ewes.
The most prevalent bacterial isolates from the vaginal discharge of aborted ewes were
The clinical investigation of uterine involution in sheep is difficult because the uterus can not be examined by rectal or abdominal palpation and uterine discharge ceases shortly after parturition due to the closure of the cervix. Uterine involution in sheep has been assessed histologically (Doboszynska et al., 1988; Krajnicakova et al., 1996), macroscopically at slaughter (Call et al., 1976; Doboszynska et al., 1988) and by means of radio-opaque markers and radiography (Tian and Noakes, 1991). In contrast to these methods B-mode real time ultrasound allows the noninvasive examination of uterus in sheep. The transrectal scanning is more reliable method than the transabdominal. The pilot study showed that, it was not possible to observe the uterus by transcutaneous scanning because to great distance of uterine horns to abdominal wall. The filled rumen limited also the assessment of the uterus using transabdominal scanning (Hauser and Bostedt, 2002). Consequently, our study confirmed that transrectal sonography is a useful and reliable technique to observe the uterine involution in sheep.
In the present study, the end of uterine involution was characterized by a small cross-sectional diameter of uterine horns and absence of
The spontaneously delivered ewes showed a physiological regression of the uterus with a transversal diameter of 5.55(+/-0.02) cm on day 1 postpartum, decreased to 1.87(+/-0.02) cm on day 24 [complete involution], while the aborted ewes showed a uterine regression with a transversal diameter of 5.89(+/-0.04) cm on day 1 postpartum, decreased to 3.87(+/-0.01) cm on day 24 postpartum, and delayed to 1.23(+/-0.01) cm on day 36 postpartum [complete involution]. Subsequently, there is a delayed regression in the uterus of ewes after abortion in comparison to the spontaneously delivered ones. This corresponded to studies of some authors that determined the time of uterine involution near to day 30 postpartum (O'Shea and Wright, 1984; Kucharski et al., 1989) or day 35 postpartum (Rubianes and Ungerfeld, 1993). In contrary, other authors (Rubianes et al., 1996; Hauser and Bostedt, 2002) observed that the end of uterine involution approximately at day 20 postpartum. The variability regarding the time required for a complete uterine involution may result from differences in breed, period of lambing, type of lambing and suckling. Ewes that spontaneously delivered showed a physiological regression of the uterus with a transversal diameter of 4.9±0.86 cm on day 1 postpartum which decreased to 1.84±0.14 cm until day 30 (Hauser and Bostedt, 2002). The uterine involution was delayed in ewes after manual obstetrics and cesarean section; in addition the incidence of fetal membranes retention with bacterial infections was increased leading to delayed uterine involution in aborted ewes. Subsequently, the uterine involution or regression in sheep finishes until day 24 postpartum in spontaneously delivered ewes [control] and delayed up to day 36 postpartum in aborted ewes [<2cm].