Epizootic congenital hydranencephaly and abortion in cattle due to bluetongue virus serotype 8 in the Netherlands.

W. Wouda, N.H.M.T. Peperkamp, M. Roumen, J. Muskens, P.A. van Rijn, P. Vellema

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    An outbreak of hydranencephaly in aborted foetuses and newborn calves occurred following the 2007 epidemic of bluetongue serotype 8 (BTV8\net2006) in the Netherlands. In total 35 aborted foetuses and 20 live-born calves, submitted from September 2007 to May 2008, were examined pathologically. Foetuses with gestational ages between 4 and 9 months (mean 6.8 month) showed varying stages of cerebral malformation. Initial stages were cavitations in the cerebral hemispheres with massive destruction of neuroparenchyma, calcium deposits, and a phagocytic inflammatory response. Later stages showed distinct hydranencephaly, the cerebral hemispheres being almost completely replaced by fluid-filled sacs. In seven cases the cerebellum was affected as well, but brainstem structures were intact. Newborn calves with clinical signs of abnormal behaviour ('dummy calves'), circling, head pressing, incoordination, and blindness were seen from the end of January 2008. The calves were born between 2nd January and 16th March 2008. The calves were euthanized after 1 day up to 14 weeks (mean 4-7 weeks). Brain malformations in these calves were confined to the cerebrum and consisted of varying degrees of hydranencephaly. Spleen tissue was PCR-positive for bluetongue virus (BTV) in 21 of 35 foetuses and in 1 of 20 calves. A higher percentage of PCR-positives was found in foetuses aborted in early gestation than in late gestation, suggesting clearance of BTV during gestation. Fifteen of 33 dams of PCR-negative hydranencephalic foetuses or calves could be traced and all were BTV-seropositive, indicating a previous BTV infection. The timing of hydranencephaly cases in live-born calves during the first months of 2008 was consistent with infection in early gestation during the prior transmission season. Vertical transmission and teratogenic potential have previously been described for modified-live vaccines for bluetongue but are highly unusual for field strains of BTV, which raises the issue whether BTV8\net2006 or its ancestor has been cell- or laboratory-adapted in the past
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)422-427
    JournalTijdschrift voor Diergeneeskunde
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • spontaneous abortion
    • bluetongue virus
    • viral diseases
    • viruses
    • serotypes
    • cattle diseases
    • calves
    • encephalopathy
    • transmission

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Epizootic congenital hydranencephaly and abortion in cattle due to bluetongue virus serotype 8 in the Netherlands.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this