Sepsis, Failure of Passive Transfer, and Fluid Therapy in Calves…(Univ of FL)

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Septicemia and Neonatal Infection

Infection and septicemia are significant causes of morbidity and mortality in newborn animals. Calves require adequate colostrum for passive antibody protection, because maternal immunity is not transferred through the placenta. The amount of exposure to the infecting agent and the neonate’s ability to modulate the infection through the immune system both affect the occurrence of septicemia.

Septicemia is defined as the acute invasion of the systemic circulation (the blood stream) by pathogenic bacteria, which may cause sepsis or septic shock with localization in various body systems or organs. The most common cause of septicemia is failure of passive transfer (FPT).

Possible routes of infection for septicemia:

Possible routes of infection for bacterial invasion include ingestion, inhalation, umbilical infection, and in utero infection. As a result, infection of the umbilical stump, pneumonia, and diarrhea are common visible signs.


Amanda M. House, Max Irsik, Jan K. Shearer2

1. This document is VM173, one of a series of the Veterinary Medicine-Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date August 2008. Visit the EDIS Web Site at
2. Amanda M. House, assistant professor; Max Irsik, assistant professor; Jan K. Shearer, professor; College of Veterinary Medicine, Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611. 

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