Hygroma Fluid, a Source for Brucellosis

Published on: 10/25/2010
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Random sampling of milk, sera and synovial fluid from 100 cattle in a farm with a history of retained placenta, abortion and arthritis and hygroma was investigated. All milk and sera samples were subjected to various Brucellosis diagnostic tests. Culture study was carried out with aspirated synovial fluid and the culture growth was examined. Further, intense study of the farm animals revealed that almost 60-70% cows in this study, which had reproductive problems were in second and third calving status and were found with severe clinical cases of mastitis.


Brucella abortus causes infertility, repeat breeding,   abortion in the third term  of pregnancy and retained fetal membrane are considered as economically important signs of brucellosis. The cattle aborted once by this organism may be normal for subsequent pregnancy. However, they excrete and secrete large numbers of organism through uterine discharge and milk (OIE, 2009). In addition, hygroma of the joints and arthritis due to chronic illness is more particular of this disease.    The present study describes the aid of hygroma and calving stage in detection of brucellosis.


In the present study 15 milk samples, 70 serum samples, and 15 synovial fluids from knee caps of 15 cattle were collected. The milk, serum and synovial fluid were subjected to various validated Brucella screening and detection tests namely; Brucella abortus Milk Ring Test, Rose Bengal Plate Agglutination Test, Standard Tube Agglutination Test and the cultural examination. Brucella abortus specific serum and antigens used for all the tests in this study were supplied by IVPM, Ranipet.  The synovial fluid was cultured in Brucella specific solid media after initial inoculation in to nutrient broth. The colonial growth was studied by gram staining followed by microscopical examination of coccobacillary organism.


In this study 7 (46.6%) milk, 16 (22.85%) serum samples and 7 (46.6%) synovial fluid were found strongly positive for brucellosis by various tests.  The Standard Tube Agglutination Test that showed 1 in 80 to 1 in 320 antibody titers were taken as positive.  Generally, Brucellosis in cattle is diagnosed clinically by abortion, infertility, and retained fetal membrane but in the present study; cattle which had unilateral/bilateral swelling of the knee cap were of heavy built cross bred Jersey and Holstein Friesian cow and were found positive for brucellosis. Fensterbank (1978) in his research isolated B.abortus from calves with hygroma. Musa et al. (1990) observed that 62% of hygromatous cattle which tested positive for brucellosis were suffering from long calving intervals and hygroma fluid as a potential source for spread of infection to human and animals. Vivek N. Bharde and Bhuktar discussed that hygroma can be the obvious indicator of brucellosis in tropical countries and the hygroma fluid often contains Brucella organism and this is in agreement with the present study.  The present study detected almost 60-70% of infected cattle in addition to hygroma and other signs were in the second and third calving stage. It is similar to the result of Gebretsadik Berhe et al. (2007); in their study they reported that brucellosis in older animals was 4 times greater as compared to the younger ones.


Brucellosis diagnosis was done in a herd with various reproductive problems. However, this study has proved that hygroma of the knee cap and joints of cattle can be a good evidence for detection of brucellosis.  


1. Fensterbank R. (1978)- Congenital Brucellosis in cattle associated with localization in a hygroma. Veterinary Record 23; 103(13):283-4.

2. M.T. Musa, K.L. Jahans,, and M.E. Fadalla ( 1990) - Clinical manifestations of Brucellosis in cattle of the Southern Darfur Province, Western Sudan - Journal of Comparative Pathology, Volume 103, Issue 1, July 1990, Pages 95-99.

3. Gebretsadik Berhe, Kelay Belihu, Yilkal Asfaw and DebreZei:- (2007)- Seroepidemiological Investigation of Bovine Brucellosis in the Extensive Cattle Production System of Tigray Region of Ethiopia - Intern. J. Appl. Res. Vet. Med. Vol. 5, No. 2, 2007.

4. Vivek N. Bharde , Dist. Animal Husbandry Officer, Pune, V. M. Bhuktar Joint Commissioner, A. H ; DIS Pune- Zoonotic Importance of Brucellosis- Online source.

5. OIE, May, 2009- Bovine Brucellosis, Terrestrial Manual 2009, Chapter 2. 4. 3.

Assistant Professor and Head Dept. of Veterinary epidemiology and Preventive Medicine Madras Veterinary College
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