Fluorescence in situ hybridization in species-specific diagnosis of ovine Campylobacter abortions

Godelind Wolf-Jäckel*, Mette Boye, Øystein Angen, Matthias Müller, Tim Kåre Jensen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Campylobacter infection is a leading cause of ovine abortion worldwide. Campylobacter fetus and C. jejuni are the major species involved. We report herein on abortion storms in 4 Danish sheep flocks. Initially, no pathogenic bacteria were isolated from placental and fetal tissues on aerobic and selective media despite the presence of severe suppurative and necrotizing placentitis with numerous bacteria located intracellularly in trophoblasts. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was then applied on abortion material from 13 cases; species-specific oligonucleotide probes directed against either C. fetus or C. jejuni were used in combination with a general bacterial probe. C. fetus was detected as the only lesion-associated bacterial species in 4 cases from 2 flocks, and C. jejuni in 6 cases from the other 2 flocks, thereby establishing the likely etiology of the abortion storms in all 4 flocks. FISH is a useful detection tool in culture-negative cases with tissue lesions suggestive of bacterial infection. Furthermore, FISH is a fast and economical method to detect and identify the zoonotic agent Campylobacter within ovine abortion material.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)413-419
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • campylobacter
  • FISH
  • fluorescence in situ hybridization
  • sheep abortion
  • zoonosis


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