Interdigital dermatitis, heel horn erosion, and digital dermatitis in 14 Norwegian dairy herds

M. Knappe-Poindecker, M. Gilhuus, Tim Kåre Jensen, Kirstine Klitgaard Schou, R. B. Larssen, T. Fjeldaas

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    The aim of this study was to assess infectious foot diseases, including identification and characterization of Dichelobacter nodosus and Treponema spp., in herds having problems with interdigital dermatitis (ID) and heel horn erosion (E) and in control herds expected to have few problems. We also wanted to compare diseased and healthy cows in all herds. The study included 14 dairy herds with a total of 633 cows. Eight herds had a history of ID and E, and 6 were control herds. All cows were scored for lameness, and infectious foot diseases on the hind feet were recorded after trimming. Swabs and biopsies were taken from the skin of 10 cows in each herd for bacterial analyses. In total, samples were taken from 34 cows with ID, 11 with E, 40 with both ID and E, and 8 with digital dermatitis (DD), and from 47 cows with healthy feet. Swabs were analyzed for identification and characterization of D. nodosus by PCR, culture, virulence testing, and serotyping. Biopsies were analyzed by fluorescent in situ hybridization regarding histopathology, identification, and characterization of Treponema spp., and identification of D. nodosus. Interdigital dermatitis was the most frequent foot disease, with a prevalence of 50.4% in problem herds compared with 26.8% in control herds. Heel horn erosion was recorded in 34.8% of the cows in problem herds compared with 22.1% in control herds. Dichelobacter nodosus was detected in 97.1% of the cows with ID, in 36.4% with E, in all cows with both ID and E, in all cows with DD, and in 66.0% of cows with healthy feet. All serogroups of D. nodosus except F and M were detected, and all isolates were defined as benign by the gelatin gel test. Treponema spp. were detected in 50.0% of the cows with ID, in 9.1% with E, in 67.5% with ID and E, in all cows with DD, and in 6.4% of those with healthy feet. In total, 6 previously described phylotypes (PT) of Treponema were detected: PT1, PT3, PT6, PT13, and PT15 in cows with ID, PT1 in a cow with E, and PT1, PT2, PT3, PT6, and PT13 in cows with both ID and E. One new phylotype (PT19) was identified. The epidermal damage score was higher but the difference in inflammatory response of the dermis was minor in cows with ID versus those with healthy feet. Fisher's exact test revealed an association between ID and D. nodosus, and between ID and Treponema spp. Logistic regression revealed an association between both ID and E and dirty claws (odds ratios = 1.9 and 2.0, respectively). Our study indicates that D. nodosus, Treponema spp., and hygiene are involved in the pathogenesis of ID.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Dairy Science
    Issue number12
    Pages (from-to)7617–7629
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Interdigital dermatitis
    • Heel horn erosion
    • Dichelobacter nodosus
    • Treponema spp.


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