Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Serological diversity of Dichelobacter nodosus in German sheep flocks

Footrot is one of the major causes of lameness in sheep and leads to decreased animal welfare and high economic losses. The causative agent is the Gram-negative anaerobic bacterium Dichelobacter nodosus. The prevalence of D. nodosus in 207 sheep flocks across Germany was 42.9%. Based on the sequence variation in the type IV fimbrial gene fimA, D. nodosus can be subdivided into ten serogroups (A-I and M). There are commercially available vaccines covering nine serogroups, but the efficacy is low compared to bivalent vaccines. The aim of this study was to investigate the diversity of serogroups in Germany at the flock and animal levels. In total, we detected at least one serogroup in 819 samples out of 969 D. nodosus-positive samples from 83 flocks using serogroup-specific singleplex PCR for the serogroups A-I. Serogroup A was most prevalent at the animal level, followed by serogroups B, H and C. At the flock level, serogroups A and B had the highest prevalence, each with 64%, but only 40% of flocks had both. The average number of serogroups per animal was 1.42 (range one to five) and, per flock, 3.10 (range one to six). The serogrouping showed within-flock specific clusters but were widely distributed, with 50 different combinations across the flocks. The factors associated with the number of serogroups per animal and single serogroups were the load of D. nodosus, footrot score, sheep breed and flock. Our results indicate that efficient vaccination programs would benefit from tailor-made flock-specific vaccines and regular monitoring of circulating serotypes in the flock to be able to adjust vaccine formulations for nationwide progressive control of footrot in Germany.


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