Systemic Nocardiosis in a 6 Week Old Beluga Calf
IAAAM 1994
Todd R. Robeck, DVM; Leslie M. Dalton, DVM; W. Glen Young, BS

A 40 day old 60 pound beluga calf was presented with signs of lethargy, inappetence, and an elevated respiratory rate on October 26, 1993. The animal had previously been placed on antibiotics, antifungals and administered purified beluga IgG due to similar clinical signs 5 days post-partum. At that time, it was determined that the calf's dam had mastitis and that her infection accounted for the calf's decrease in observed nursing. Once all clinical signs of mastitis had disappeared, the calf had begun to nurse normally and quickly put on 28 pounds. When clinical signs reappeared, cultures were taken (blood, deep nasal swab, blow plates, and rectal swab) and the animal was placed on enteral nutritional support. Hematology revealed regenerative anemia with nRBCs, degenerative left shift, elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). Nasal swab cytology showed degenerative neutrophilic infiltrate. Ultrasonography yielded no significant findings. Antibiotics and antifungals were instituted at this time. The calf's condition continued to deteriorate as evidenced by increasing regenerative anemia, degenerative left shift, and increasing ESR On 1]/6/93 Ultrasonography revealed sever right thoracic pleural effusion with fibrin tags and a collapsed and consolated right lung. The left thoracic cavity had only mild evidence of pleural effusion and pleural thickening. No abdominal abnormalities were sonographically detected. Three liters of serosanginous fluid were drained from the right thoracic cavity. Antibiotics and steroid solution was infused back into the thoracic cavity. The fluid was analyzed and cultured. Gram positive filamentous rods were cultured and a tentative etiology of Nocardia spp was made. Supportive therapy continued until the animals' death on 11-14-93.

Histopathology and microbiology results revealed that the calf had a primary fulminating Nocardiosis pneumonia in the right lung which led to a pleuritis and eventual systemic infection of the organism to multiple organ sites.

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Todd R. Robeck, BS, DVM, PhD
Sea World of Texas
San Antonio, TX, USA

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