Natural lymphatic (“atypical”) actinobacillosis in cattle caused by Actinobacillus lignieresii. Caffarena RD(1)(2), Rabaza A(1)(2), Casaux L(1)(2). Actinobacillosis, or Wooden Tongue is not an uncommon condition in cattle, but is generally seen sporadically in individual animals. It does not spread readily. Actinobacillosis In The Bovine. E. R. Frank. Kansas State College. Follow this and additional works at: Part of the.

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Natural lymphatic (“atypical”) actinobacillosis in cattle caused by Actinobacillus lignieresii.

Actinobacillosis, or Wooden Tongue is not an uncommon condition in cattle, but is generally seen sporadically in individual animals. It does not spread readily unless predisposing environmental conditions cause a high incidence of oral lacerations Radostits et al, In the following cases, signalment, diet and environmental conditions combined to cause outbreaks of the condition within these herds.

A landholder reported cattle with excessive drooling, bottle jaw and open lesions around the jaw and neck on an extensive grazing property in Burren Junction, North Western NSW. The cattle were aged years and had been grazing oat stubble for the past three weeks, during which time the problem had noticeably worsened.

Prior to the oats, they had been grazing 3 year old wheat stubble, and had been early weaned due to prolonged drought conditions on the property. They had been vaccinated with 5 in 1 at weaning, and had not been recently wormed. The worst affected animals were standing with necks outstretched, drooling, with stridor and heavy breathing.

Multiple animals had large nodular masses evident, predominantly under the jaw, but some animals also had masses protruding from their flanks See figure 4and one had a large mass in the inguinal region. Examination of the worst affected animals showed axtinobacillosis, firm granulomatous masses in predominantly submandibular locations.

The masses ranged from cm diameter, and were not attached to bone. Some were open with a bloody or purulent discharge See figure 5while others were closed, with no sign of external injury.

Actinobacillosis, two cases

Most affected animals also had xctinobacillosis degree of subcutaneous oedema in the neck. Affected cattle had elevated temperatures, ranging from Several animals had mild swelling of the tongue and reduced muscle tone Figure 7causing the tongue to protrude. One animal was observed to have a small 5cm diameter granulomatous mass under the tongue figure 8.


Biopsies collected from several animals were sent to EMAI for testing Figure 9 and returned a pure growth of Actinobacillus lignieresii. Histopathology reported Lymphadenitis, granulomatous, multifocal, chronic, and severe with intralesional Splendore-hoeppli material. Biochemistry on two affected animals showed one had a mild copper deficiency cttle. Antibiotic sensitivity testing of the cultured bacteria revealed sensitivity to a range of common antibiotics including tetracyclines.

The affected animals were treated with long acting oxytetracycline and removed from the oat actinobacillpsis.

The situation resolved to a point that affected animals were no longer easily identifiable in the paddock. Six months later on a nearby property at Burren Junction, 15 Angus x Hereford cows in a mob of 40 with calves at foot were observed with similar lesions. The cattle were being fed oaten hay from hay feeders in a paddock, with access to sparse pasture — this property was also affected by long term drought.

On examination, the affected cows were found to have cm diameter granulomatous lesions in the submandibular region.

Two cows also had moderate swelling of the caudal tongue. None were observed to have lesions catlte the oral cavity. Faecal testing for worm eggs revealed no significant worm burden.

A diagnosis of wooden catle was made based on clinical signs, and the affected cows were treated with a single long acinobacillosis Oxytetracycline injection. The recommended treatment of sodium iodide was prohibitively expensive in these cases. Broad spectrum long acting antibiotics were a more feasible and practical option.

The bacteria is reported to survive for up to 5 days in the environment Radostitis et al,therefore in both cases it was recommended that affected cattle be removed from the rest of the herd to avoid further contamination of the paddock and feed bins.

Actinobacillosis – Wikipedia

Routine management advice was also given including recommendations to wormtest and drench if required. Actinobacillus lignieresii is a normal inhabitant of the oral cavity and rumen Radostits et al,and infection occurs due to damage to the oral mucosa. Abbatoir surveys suggest that subclinical infections are common, particularly affecting the draining lymph nodes of the head Radostits et al Actinobacillosis is a common diagnosis in cattle, but generally affects individual animals — it unusual to see such high numbers affected within a herd.

Both of these herds were subject to considerable stresses, both nutritionally due to prolonged drought, and physiologically, with one mob teething, and the other with young calves at foot. Interestingly, both herds on eating oats — stubble and hay — and we had further anecdotal reports from other landholders around the same time of cattle on oat stubble being affected with suspected wooden tongue.


Parkinson et al reports a higher incidence of disease in cattle feeding on crops with awns, such as oats, and Jubb et al reports that the common primary lesion is caused by grass seeds and awns stuck in the lingual groove.

The eruption of teeth cxttle commonly causes an entry point for the bacteria Jubb et al, Actinobacillosis actinobacillossi a disease of soft tissue, spreading as a lymphangitis involving regional lymph nodes, differentiating it from actinomycosis, which causes bone lesions. The retropharyngeal and submaxillary lymph nodes are most commonly affected, which causes dysphagia and dyspnoea Jubb et al, Other differentials we considered were foreign bodies, grass seed abscesses, intestinal worms, Actinomycosis, granulomas and neoplastic growths.

Exotic diseases that cause excessive salivation such as foot and mouth and bluetongue were also excluded based on clinical examination. Cutaneous Actinobacillosis is reportedly uncommon, presenting as lesions on the flanks and thighs in the form of large ulcers or nodules which may exude pus Radostits et al, We are unsure why the cattle on the first property presented with the cutaneous form in this instance.

Treatment recommendations vary, with reports of spontaneous recovery in untreated animals Radostits et al, Most broad spectrum antibiotics are effective Parkinson et al,and sensitivity testing confirmed that tetracyclines were likely to be effective against the causative agent in this case.

Response to treatment is generally good, but recurrence is common, particularly in chronic cases Radostits et al, It is difficult to prevent the disease except through minimizing exposure to rough or spiky caftle Parkinson et al,which can prove difficult under drought conditions.

Actinobacillosis is not considered acinobacillosis high risk zoonotic disease, but the organism has been isolated from bite wounds inflected by cattle Radostits et al,so care should be taken when investigating these cases.

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