Online Case Study: Bovine health


  • Phil Scott DVM&S CertCHP DSHP FRCVS

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  • Biography Phil Scott has 33 years' experience of farm animal practice and is a European specialist in both small ruminant (DipECSRHM) and cattle health and production (DipECBHM). He was awarded an FRCVS in 1994 for studies on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and a doctorate for studies on perinatal lamb mortality from the University of Edinburgh in 1993. He is the author of over 150 peer-reviewed articles and three veterinary textbooks. He regularly contributes to regional and national farming magazines via articles franchised through the national animal disease information service (NADIS).

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Here is a sample question, please visit for the full Case study.

In May, a three-year-old Charolais bull presents with a four months’ history of weight loss but an apparently normal appetite. The bull is bright and alert. The bull has never been lame. The bull has been fed ad-libitum hay and 4 kg of barley twice daily for the past six months (during winter). The bull was purchased one year previously in show condition but is now in body condition score 2.0. The bull ran with 30 cows last summer, all have now calved.

The rectal temperature is normal (38.5°C). The ocular and oral mucous membranes appear normal. The heart rate is 70 beats per minute. The respiratory rate is 24 breaths per minute with no abnormal sounds detected on auscultation of the chest. There are no reports of coughing or any discharges from the eyes or nostrils. The ruminal contractions are normal in strength and frequency. The bull is passing normal faeces.

The farmer has treated the bull twice during the winter for fluke; first with triclabendazole in December, then with nitroxynil in February. No other cattle in the group show similar signs of weight loss. The bull was treated with ivermectin pour-on at housing.


Which of the following conditions would you consider the most likely cause of this condition?

  • a. Paratuberculosis
  • b. Fasciolosis
  • c. Endocarditis
  • d. Liver abscesses
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[ A three-year-old Charolais bull presenting with a four months' history of weight loss but an apparently normal appetite. ]

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