Background: Bovine venereal campylobacteriosis is caused by Campylobacter fetus subsp. venerealis and its glycerine-tolerant variant Campylobacter fetus subsp. venerealis biovars intermedius. The disease can be economically important when present in cattle herds, causing poor reproductive performance, embryo mortality and abortion. Sensitive and specific diagnostic tests are required in the diagnosis of infection and to inform and monitor disease control. Current tests include bacterial culture and fluorescent antibody testing of preputial sheath washings and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and an agglutination test on vaginal mucus, although the predictive values of these tests can be inadequate in field investigations. Artificial insemination is often considered as a simple control method for bovine venereal campylobacteriosis, but is impractical for many beef suckler herds where breeding takes place at pasture. Commercial vaccines are unavailable in the UK, while the efficacy of autogenous vaccines using a bacterial isolate from infected animals on a specific farm is at best unproven. Hence, for some infected herds, the development of an alternative control strategy based on segregation of potentially infected and uninfected animals in combination with culling or treatment would be desirable. This approach requires meticulous records and herd health management. Case presentation: In this paper we highlight difficulties in diagnosing bovine venereal campylobacteriosis and demonstrate the benefits of good record keeping when investigating poor reproductive performance in a beef suckler herd and establishing a herd-specific approach to bio-containment of the infectious cause. Conclusions: Bovine venereal campylobacteriosis is an economically important disease that should be considered in investigations of suckler herd subfertility problems. Control of the disease based on segregation of potentially infected and uninfected animals in combination with extensive culling can be achieved without the use of artificial insemination or vaccination, but requires meticulous records and strict adherence to herd biosecurity practices.
- Beef cattle