A syndrome of facial paralysis of dairy calves in the Franklin district of New Zealand

A syndrome of facial paralysis of dairy calves in the Franklin district of New Zealand
Peer reviewed


AIM: To determine the aetiology of a syndrome characterised by facial paralysis in calves (facial paralysis syndrome; FPS); describe the epidemiology of the syndrome on an affected case farm; and define the intra-farm prevalence of affected calves, and inter-farm prevalence of affected dairy farms, in the Franklin district of New Zealand.
CASE HISTORY AND CLINICAL FINDINGS: An investigation was carried out on a town-supply dairy farm experiencing an outbreak of FPS in calves during the autumn of 2007, following a previous outbreak during the spring of 2006; 21 calves were affected in both outbreaks. Post-mortem examinations of three affected calves revealed no infectious aetiological agent in neurological tissues despite tests for viruses, bacteria and Mycoplasma species. Tests on hepatic tissues for vanadium toxicity were inconclusive.
SURVEY OF DAIRY FARMS: Results from a postal survey of 177/325 (54%) farms established the yearly prevalence of affected farms, based on farmer diagnosis, was 11%, and there was a median two (range 1–25) affected calves on those farms. There was no evidence of spatial clustering of affected farms after accounting for the underlying farm density, or of an increase in the number of affected farms between 2003 and 2007.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Facial paralysis syndrome is an unusual condition that has not been reported in other districts of New Zealand or in other countries. It is probable that this syndrome will continue to occur at a low to moderate prevalence, and have a significant impact on a small number of farms.
KEY WORDS: Facial paralysis syndrome, calves, bovine, non-suppurative meningitis, Mycoplasma, Listeria monocytogenes

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