The association of Fusobacterium necrophorum with late term abortion in sheep is reported. The bacterium was not culturable, but was identified in five cases by fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) with an oligonucleotide probe specifically targeting 16S rRNA in F. necrophorum. Gross lesions were found in several tissues. Histologically, placental lesions were characterized by locally diffuse infiltration of neutrophils, closely associated with abundant small Gram-negative and FISH-positive rods, thrombosis and necrosis. Lesions in the fetal-maternal interface were multifocal and consisted of villous necrosis and suppurative inflammation. Spread to the fetus from the placenta appeared to occur in two ways. Some fetuses had multifocal necrotizing hepatitis consistent with haematogenous spread through the umbilical vein; further dissemination to other organs occurred. Transplacental spread and infection of the fetus through the amniotic fluid was characterized by development of multifocal suppurative dermatitis and suppurative bronchopneumonia. Localization of FISH-positive bacteria in necrotic lesions was restricted to the periphery. E necrophorum would seem to have been unrecognized previously as a cause of abortion. The value of culture-independent diagnostic methods is emphasized.
- Fusobacterium necrophorum