Growing Role of Fungi in Mycotic Abortion of Domestic Animal

Review Article

J Bacteriol Mycol. 2015;2(1):1009.

Growing Role of Fungi in Mycotic Abortion of Domestic Animal

Mahendra Pal*

Department of Microbiology, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

*Corresponding author: Mahendra Pal, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture, Addis Ababa University, P.B.No.34, Debre Zeit, Ethiopia

Received: November 13, 2014; Accepted: March 23, 2015; Published: March 24, 2015


Infectious abortion, caused by diverse types of microbes, is of a great economic and public health significance. Among various etiologic agents, bacteria, fungi, and viruses are implicated in 50 to 62%, 22 to 25 %, and 15 to 25 % of cases, respectively. Mycotic abortion is an important reproductive problem of dairy cattle all over the world. The disease has been reported from many countries, including Australia, India, New Zealand, and USA. It is caused by a number of different fungi, which are mostly distributed in the environment. Among the fungi, Aspergillus fumigatus is associated with most cases of abortions followed by zygomyectes. Fungal abortions in cattle have been recorded usually between 6 to 8 months of gestation. Aborted animals usually suffer from retention of the placenta. Moldy fodder or silage, and confinement of pregnant animals in humid, hot, old and unhygienic houses are recognized, as predisposing factors for mycotic abortion. The transmission and epidemiology of disease are still considered inadequately studied. Direct microscopy and cultural isolation of the fungal agent in the clinical specimen still considered as the main stay of diagnosis. Prognosis of case is usually good but very rarely, cows may develop pneumonia or endometritis after few weeks of abortion. Currently, no treatment has been evolved for mycotic abortion. Avoidance of moldy feed and the provision of hygienic shed to pregnant animals will certainly reduce the incidence of disease. It is emphasized that future studies on the pathogenesis and epidemiology of disease will be rewarding. Furthermore, application of molecular techniques for quick diagnosis of mycotic abortion in domestic animals should be attempted.

Keywords: Abortion; Aspergillus fumigates; Cattle; Fungi; Mouldy fooder; Zygomyectes


Infectious abortion, which involves multiple etiologic agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, Rickettsia, mollicutes, and protozoa, is of worldwide distribution [1-3]. Disease in dairy animals is of great economic importance due to direct loss of young one, reduced milk production, expenditure on drugs and veterinary aids, expenditure on keeping such unproductive animals, and delayed conception [3]. Brucellosis is one of the leading causes of abortion in dairy animals in India as well as other countries. Annual economic loss due to brucellosis in India is estimated Rs.240 millions equal to 5.5 million US Dollar. The late term abortions have been estimated to cost between USD 500 to 900 per animal [4]. The common squeal of abortion includes retention of placenta, endometritis, pyometra, sterility, infertility, and anoestrus. Some of the infectious agents responsible for abortions in animals have public health significance [1,3].

Mycotic abortion (fungal abortion, mycotic placentitis), caused by many fungi, is a cosmopolitan, infectious, sporadic, infection of genital tract of animals, particularly the cows [2]. Rarely, outbreaks of mycotic abortions are recorded. The global prevalence of fungal abortions including India is recorded from 1 to 25% [5]. Knudtson and Kirkbride [6] examined 6,858 cases of abortions and stillbirths in dairy cows, and confirmed the etiology of fungal abortions in 6.8%. Among the fungi, Aspergillus fumigatus is identified as the cause of bovine abortion in over 60% of the cases. The exact mode of transmission of infection is not known. The fungus can be isolated from fetal stomach contents, and fetal internal organs on mycological media [7]. The isolation of the fungal agent from the clinical specimens, and its direct demonstration under microscope remains the gold standard for an unequivocal diagnosis of mycotic disease [2]. Presently, no chemotherapeutic agent is recommended for the treatment of mycotic abortion in domestic livestock. The management of fungal abortion depends on avoiding the feeding of moldy feed to the pregnant animals, and keeping them in hygienic well ventilated houses. The present communication delineates an overview on the growing role of fungi in abortions of domestic animals with main emphasis on etiology, and diagnosis.


Smith Theobold is credited to report for the first time the association of the fungus with abortion in 1920 [8], who isolated Rhizopus rhizopodiformis from the bovine placental membrane. Since then, a large number of mycotic agents are involved in the etiology of abortion in many species of animals [2,5,7,9-14]. These organisms may affect the fetus or its placenta or both. A wide variety of fungi including filamentous moulds and unicellular yeasts are implicated with mycotic abortions of domestic animals Table 1. Most of the fungi, which cause abortions in livestock, are prevalent in our environment as saprobe. In majority of cases, only one species of fungi is demonstrated in the etiology of fungal abortion. However, Turner [15] reported simultaneous infection of a bovine fetus by two fungi. The mixed infection due to more than one fungus is demonstrated in about 10 % of mycotic abortions [2]. The dual infection of bovine placenta due to more than fungi is presented in Table 2.