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Animals 2015, 5(4), 1114-1135;

Digital Dermatitis in Cattle: Current Bacterial and Immunological Findings

Infectious Bacterial Diseases of Livestock Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA 50010, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jonathan Huxley and Clive J. Phillips
Received: 30 May 2015 / Revised: 16 October 2015 / Accepted: 23 October 2015 / Published: 11 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dairy Cow Mobility and Lameness)
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Simple Summary

Digital dermatitis causes lameness in cattle. Numerous studies have identified multiple bacteria associated with these painful lesions. Several types of a spiral shaped bacteria, Treponema species, are thought to play a role in disease development. Little is known about the immune response to bacteria involved in digital dermatitis. Local inflammatory cells can contribute to the non-healing nature of the disease. Animal models of infection are required to develop effective vaccines and treatments.


Globally; digital dermatitis is a leading form of lameness observed in production dairy cattle. While the precise etiology remains to be determined; the disease is clearly associated with infection by numerous species of treponemes; in addition to other anaerobic bacteria. The goal of this review article is to provide an overview of the current literature; focusing on discussion of the polybacterial nature of the digital dermatitis disease complex and host immune response. Several phylotypes of treponemes have been identified; some of which correlate with location in the lesion and some with stages of lesion development. Local innate immune responses may contribute to the proliferative, inflammatory conditions that perpetuate digital dermatitis lesions. While serum antibody is produced to bacterial antigens in the lesions, little is known about cellular-based immunity. Studies are still required to delineate the pathogenic traits of treponemes associated with digital dermatitis; and other host factors that mediate pathology and protection of digital dermatitis lesions. View Full-Text
Keywords: digital dermatitis; treponemes; anaerobes; immune response; dairy cattle digital dermatitis; treponemes; anaerobes; immune response; dairy cattle

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Wilson-Welder, J.H.; Alt, D.P.; Nally, J.E. Digital Dermatitis in Cattle: Current Bacterial and Immunological Findings. Animals 2015, 5, 1114-1135.

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