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Actinomycosis in cows

Actinomycosis in cattle is a disease that has been known since the 1970s. The causative agent of the pathology was identified by the Italian scientist Rivolt. Later this discovery was confirmed by German researchers. In the modern world, actinomycosis is spreading more and more, affecting a huge number of cattle (cattle). All about the symptoms, methods of diagnosis and treatment of the disease further.

What is actinomycosis in cattle

Actinomycosis occupies a leading position among cattle diseases. This disease has been known since ancient times. Scientists examined the jaws of a Tertiary rhino. On them, they found changes characteristic of actinomycosis.

The main target for infection is cattle. Sometimes pigs get sick, and most rarely other animals. Most often, the disease affects the following parts of the cow's body:

  • lower jaw;
  • gum;
  • sky;
  • the space between the jaws;
  • pharynx;
  • The lymph nodes;
  • salivary glands.

Attention! All of the above localizations are united by one term - actinomycosis of the head.

Separately, the lesion of the udder and tongue is distinguished. In the photo, actinomycosis of cattle looks like this.

Causes of cow disease actinomycosis

The causative agent of actinomycosis is the fungus Actinomyces bovis. In atypical cases, other types of fungus are isolated. In the exudate (inflammatory fluid), the pathogen is isolated in the form of small brown grains, which are also called druses. They are gray or yellow.

When examining smears of sick cows under a microscope, the fungus looks like tangled threads. Moreover, their diameter is uneven: there is a thickening at the periphery and a thin area in the middle.

But the fungus is not the only causative agent of actinomycosis. Sometimes, when examining pus, bacteria are released:

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa;
  • protea;
  • staphylococci or streptococci.

Some researchers argue that actinomycosis is caused by an association of fungi and bacterial flora.

Actinomyces bovis actively develops under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. This means that the fungus doesn't care if it has access to oxygen. When heated to 75 ° C, the causative agent of actinomycosis is destroyed within 5 minutes, and formalin solution kills it in 3 minutes. Actinomycetes survive in the environment for 2 years, they are resistant to low temperatures.

The causative agent of actinomycosis enters the cow's body through damage to the skin, wounds in the mouth, nipples in the udder. The infection can enter through the respiratory tract, rectum. Sometimes cows become infected endogenously. Actinomycetes, which are found in the intestines and oral cavity of healthy cattle, suddenly become activated and cause an inflammatory process.

In the history of cattle actinomycosis, in most cases there is a history of trauma, which served as the gateway for infection. The source of infection with actinomycosis can be feed contaminated with pathogenic fungi, water and other objects with which cows interact.

From the gate of the infection, the pathogen spreads through the connective tissue and subcutaneous fat. Therefore, actinomycosis is most often local in nature. It sometimes spreads through the blood throughout the body.


Clinical manifestations of cow actinomycosis depend on the localization of the pathological process, the state of the animal's immune system, and the aggressiveness of the pathogen. But all varieties of cow disease have several things in common. Any form of actinomycosis is chronic. The disease begins with the incubation period. It represents a period of time when the pathogen is already active in the cow's body, but clinical manifestations have not yet been observed.

Another common symptom is the formation of actinomyoma in cows. This is a mass, which is essentially a benign tumor. It grows slowly, does not hurt, has a dense consistency.

When the head is affected, dense nodules form in cows that grow both outward and inward, into the pharynx. Soon fistulas form on actinomyomas. Through them, yellowish pus is secreted, which contains grains. These inclusions are the drusen of the fungus. After a certain time, small areas of the skin begin to die off, so impurities of rejected tissues appear in the pus. The color of the discharge turns reddish. The fistula is opened and overgrown.

With the growth of a tumor in the pharynx, the cow begins to breathe with difficulty, it is difficult for her to swallow. As a result, due to the violation of the act of swallowing, the animal loses weight. Despite the abundant discharge of pus, the temperature usually remains normal. An increase is characteristic only for generalized actinomycosis.

When the jaws or the space between them are affected, the shape of the cattle head changes. The jaw of cows is enlarged several times. Sometimes the inflammation spreads to the surrounding tissues, due to which fistulas (holes) are formed in the palate and gums. A purulent mass follows from them.

Actinomycosis of the udder of cattle is characterized by a predominant lesion of the hind lobes. It is manifested by massive necrosis of the skin. First, dense rollers with a purulent cavity in the center are formed on the udder. Then fistulas develop in their place, from which a yellowish secret follows.

Actinomycosis of the tongue is characterized by widespread or limited inflammation of this organ. People call it "wooden tongue". In cows, an ulcer on the back of the organ is most often formed. The ulcer has a gray-white bottom with ridges along the edges.

Attention! With a widespread inflammatory process, the tongue swells, sharply increases in size, and bleeds. It hurts the cow to move it. In advanced cases, the organ dies off.


Treatment of actinomycosis in cows requires a correct diagnosis. More often than not, it is not in doubt. A professional veterinarian, already on the basis of clinical manifestations, may suspect actinomycosis. But in any case, laboratory confirmation is necessary for the selection of an effective therapy.

Additional diagnostics consists in examining the pathological secretion under a microscope. To do this, take pus, granulomatous tissue, oropharyngeal swabs. Actinomycosis is diagnosed as follows:

  1. They take a secret or part of a tubercle suspicious of pathology.
  2. Rinse them under water.
  3. It is treated with an aqueous alkaline solution.
  4. Placed on a glass slide.
  5. Fix with 50% glycerin solution.
  6. Cover the top with a glass slide.

Only after all the preparatory stages have been carried out can you be sure of the quality of the research. But decisive in the diagnosis of actinomycosis is the sowing of the pathological secretion on nutrient media. However, bacteriological examination is difficult.

Determination of the level of antibodies to the pathogen is not widely used in veterinary medicine, although it is widely used in the diagnosis of diseases in humans. Thus, the most commonly used method is microscopy.

When making a diagnosis, actinomycosis should be differentiated from other cow diseases:

  • actinobacillosis;
  • streptotrichosis;
  • foot and mouth disease;
  • epizootic lymphangitis;
  • tuberculosis of the lymph nodes.

Actinomycosis and actinobacillosis have the greatest similarity. But in the first case, the bone is most often damaged, in the second - the soft tissues of cows. Pathogens are excellent in microscopic examination. The causative agent of actinomycosis has the form of long filaments, actinobacillosis - rods.

Tuberculosis of the lymph nodes differs from actinomycosis in that in the first case, the formation of an abscess is not characteristic. Cows infected with mycobacterium tuberculosis react with tuberculinization.

How to treat actinomycosis in cows

The main goal of therapy for the disease is the elimination of the pathogen. This implies the complete elimination of the fungus from the cattle organism.

In the initial period of the disease, iodine compounds are used. They are given to cows in the mouth and as parenteral injections. Solutions of iodine and calcium iodide are injected intravenously. They are mixed with distilled water or saline sodium chloride solution. For 1 ml of iodine, take 2 ml of potassium iodide and 500 ml of water. But with such treatment, relapses of actinomycosis are possible.

To completely cure the cow, they turn to antibiotic therapy. The course of treatment is 4 to 6 days. The duration depends on the severity of the disease, the state of immunological resistance of the cow, the resistance of the pathogen. The most commonly used drug is "Oxytetracycline". In the treatment of actinomycosis in adult cattle, the dose of the drug per application is 400,000 units, calves are given 200,000 units.

Locally, actinomycomas are injected with "Polymyxin". It also belongs to the group of antibiotics. 900 IU is dissolved in 20 ml of novocaine. The latter is used for pain relief. The procedure is carried out once every 10 days.

Important! The disappearance of symptoms is not yet a signal to stop antibiotic therapy.

The course of treatment should be strictly the same as determined by the specialist. As a rule, therapy is continued for several more days after the complete cessation of clinical manifestations. This is the only way to finally get rid of the pathogen.

In the treatment of actinomycosis of cattle with antibiotics, potassium iodide is used as concomitant therapy. The dose for 1 injection is equal to 100 ml of a 10% solution. Ultrasonic irradiation is becoming more and more widespread.

For localized forms of the disease, surgical removal of the tumor is considered the most effective. Actinomycoma is excised completely together with the capsule. To increase the effectiveness of therapy, the cow is preliminarily given antibiotics in a course. Moreover, drugs are injected both locally into the formation, and intravenously. Below is a video of the surgical treatment of cattle actinomycosis.

The room in which the sick cow was located must be disinfected without fail. To do this, use a 3% alkaline solution or fresh lime.

Inexpensive but effective drugs for the treatment of actinomycosis in cattle

Drugs for etiotropic therapy (aimed at eliminating the pathogen) are inexpensive in most cases. Moreover, they are highly effective. For the treatment of actinomycosis in cows, you can use the following antibiotics:

  • "Penicillin";
  • "Benzylpenicillin";
  • "Oxytetracycline";
  • Erythromycin;
  • "Metronidazole" (effective for anaerobic infection).

Together with antibiotics, drugs of other groups are used. Among antiseptics, the drug "Monoclavit-1" is highly effective. This product contains iodine. It is effective for both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Its mechanism of action consists in the formation of a film on the surface of the wound, which protects it from environmental contaminants. External treatment is carried out once a day.

Zinaprim is another inexpensive but effective drug for the treatment of cow actinomycosis. It is sold in powder form. The medicine is given to cows by mouth at the rate of 1 g per 10 kg of body weight. The course of treatment is 3 to 5 days. Zinaprim also acts on gram-positive and gram-negative microorganisms. The drug should not be given to cows with hypersensitivity to sulfamethazine, the active ingredient in the drug.

Biologically active additive "Polyfit-propolis" cannot be ignored. The course of drug treatment is long. It is 16 to 21 days. Therefore, it is used in combination with other medicines.


The prognosis of actinomycosis depends on the form of the disease, the severity of its course, the timeliness and adequacy of the treatment of the cow. The earlier antibiotic therapy is started, the greater the likelihood of complete recovery of cattle without relapses. With localized forms, the prognosis is favorable. It worsens with generalized types of the disease or with involvement of the joints in the process.

Some cured cows develop reinfection. This is often due to inadequacy of antibiotic therapy. Breeders stop treatment as soon as symptoms disappear. As noted earlier, this is fundamentally wrong.

Preventive measures

Actinomycosis, like many other diseases of animals and humans, is easier to prevent than cure. Therefore, it is very important to carry out prevention of this disease on farms. To reduce the risk of infection of cows with infection, you must follow these rules:

  1. Disinfect the cattle stall regularly. An effective treatment agent is freshly slaked lime.
  2. Do not graze cows in damp areas or lowlands if the farm is located in an unfavorable area for fungus.
  3. Prepare roughage before being consumed by cows. To do this, they should be poured with boiling water and kept for 5-10 minutes. You can also add salt (10-15 g per 10 liters of water).
  4. Calcine the straw before feeding the cow.
  5. Cattle that have already contracted actinomycosis should be urgently isolated.
  6. Recovered cows should be under constant supervision, as a relapse of the disease is possible.

Advice! For the processing of feed, you can also use the ammonization method: soaking in 25% ammonia water for 4-5 hours.


Actinomycosis in cattle is a disease that requires the earliest possible diagnosis and treatment. With the timely initiation of therapy, complete recovery of the cows can be achieved. The main thing is not to self-medicate, but to seek help from a veterinarian. Only a specialist can determine the exact dosage and duration of the course.

Watch the video: Actinomyces, nocardia and tropheryma (May 2021).