Probable occurrence of black leg in a sucker dairy calf: the necessity of providing sufficient maternal antibody in endemic regions


1 Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran

2 Department of Patobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

3 Department of Patobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


Black leg has been reported in a variety of animals, but is of
the most importance in cattle and sheep. A20 days old Holstein
dairy calf was examined because of anorexia and lameness from
2 days ago. The calf was depressed, tachypneic, tachycardic, and
had a body temperature of 38.5ºC. Both hind limbs proximal to
the tarsal joint were markedly swollen, firm and painful. No
crepitation was noted on palpation. The calf had bruxism, stiffness
of gait and unwillingness to move. At necropsy, massive
necrosis of thigh muscles which caused dark discolorated tissue
with metallic sheen, large amount of thin sanguineous exuda and
abundant gas bubbles were evident in the underlying tissues.
Histopathologic examination revealed extensive degeneration
and coagulative necrosis of muscle fibers and supported a
diagnosis of black leg. No vaccination against Clostridium
chauvoei was applied in the herd and the calf did not receive
notable maternal antibody. Providing sufficient maternal
antibody or early vaccination of the susceptible newborn calves
should be considered in the endemic regions.