Yeasts in the gastrointestinal tract of preweaned calves and possible involvement of Candida glabrata in neonatal calf diarrhea

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Abstract

To examine the possibility of a mycotic involvement in neonatal calf diarrhea (NCD) the presence of fungi was assessed in (a) the intestinal contents of dead calves and fecal samples submitted for routine laboratory examination, (b) fecal specimens, sampled once in winter and once in summer, of calves raised on 2 farms with different management systems, and (c) mucosal scrapings of various segments of the digestive tract of a diarrheic calf, massively shedding Candida glabrata.

C. glabrata was the most prevalent fungal species isolated from the routine samples. It was the only fungus which was shed by the calves on the 2 farms, for continuous, more or less prolonged periods, but exclusively in the winter months. Diarrhea and C. glabrata shedding seemed to be associated. C. glabrata colonized the abomasum (the functional equivalent of the monogastric stomach) but not the other segments of the digestive tract of the euthanized calf

Based on the findings of this study it seems that while some yeast species may be considered as commensals of the digestive tract of calves, and consequently their isolation from intestinal contents or fecal samples has no clinical significance, others, such as C. glabrata may be involved in enteric pathogenic processes. Moreover, characteristics of the culture, previous chemotherapeutic treatments, the animal's age and possibly climatic conditions should be taken into account before deciding on the fungal isolate's clinical relevance. Determination of mycotic involvement in NCD by routine mycological examination of intestinal contents and fecal samples of diarrheic calves may be useful to avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful antibacterial therapy.

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