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Hypovitaminosis A Coupled to Secondary Bacterial Infection in Beef Cattle

13 February 2013

A team of researchers has been looking into vitamin A deficiency in calves and its effect on infection and immunity.

Written by Xiuyuan He, Yongtao Li, Meng Li, Guangmin Jia, Haiju Dong, Yanru Zhang, Cong He, Chuanqing Wang, Lixin Deng and Yurong Yang and published by the BMC Veterinary Research Journal.


Vitamin A is essential for normal growth, development, reproduction, cell proliferation, cell differentiation, immune function and vision. Hypovitaminosis A can lead to a series of pathological damage in animals. This report describes the case of hypovitaminosis A associated with secondary complications in calves.

Case Presentation

From February to March in 2011, 2-and 3-month old beef calves presented with decreased eyesight, apparent blindness and persistent diarrhea occurred in a cattle farm of Hubei province, China. Based on history inspection and clinical observation, we made a tentative diagnosis of hypovitaminosis A. The disease was confirmed as a congenital vitamin A deficiency by determination of the concentrations of vitamin A in serum and feed samples. Furthermore, pathological and microbiological examination showed that the disease was associated with pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection and mucosal barriers damage in intestines. The corresponding treatments were taken immediately, and the disease was finally under control for a month.

The Antibiotic Sensitivity Test of E. Coli Strains Isolated from Affected Calves
Drugs Bacteriostatic diameters* Drugs Bacteriostatic diameters
amoxicillin 24 neomycin sulfate 10
cefoxitin 11 amikacin 15
ceftriaxone sodium 12 azithromycin 11
ceftiofur sodium 12 tylosin 12
vancomycin 11 doxycycline 8
streptomycin 8 florfenicol 12
gentamicin 20 ciprofloxacin 22
*: The diameters (d) ? 15 mm indicates highly sensitive; 10 mm ? d ? 15 mm shows moderately sensitive; d ? 10 mm indicates low-level sensitive


To our knowledge, this is the first report of hypovitaminosis A coupled to secondary infection of E. coli in beef cattle, advancing our knowledge of how vitamin A affects infection and immunity in animals. This study could also be contributed to scientific diagnosis and treatments of complex hypovitaminosis A in cattle.

January 2012


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