Only Minor Role for Bacteria in Cattle Stomach Ulcers

AUSTRIA - Bacteria play only a minor role in the development of ulcers in the fourth stomach compartment of cattle, according to new research recording stomach microbial diversity.
calendar icon 21 April 2015
clock icon 2 minute read

Scientists at the Vetmeduni Vienna analysed bacteria present in healthy and ulcerated cattle stomachs and found very few differences in microbial diversity. 

The researchers investigated the abomasum, the last of the four stomach compartments in cattle. The three other compartments, the rumen, the reticulum and the omasum, serve to predigest the food.

The role of bacteria was analysed by veterinarian Alexandra Hund of the Clinical Unit of Ruminant Medicine together with microbiologist Stephan Schmitz-Esser of the Institute for Milk Hygiene.

The researchers isolated and sequenced the bacterial DNA from the stomach samples. The DNA sequences were then used to determine the type of bacteria present.

Mr Schmitz-Esser said: "The bacterium Helicobacter pylori, commonly found in humans, was not present at all.

"We nearly saw the same bacterial composition in healthy and ulcerated animals, which suggests that bacteria only play a minor role in the etiology of abomasal ulcers.

"However, this is something we would like to underpin in future studies."

Gastritis and stomach ulcers in humans are often caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. However, other factors, such as stress and nutrition, also play a role in stomach health.

In cattle the weather and husbandry in general play an additional role. 

"Due to the very subtle symptoms of abomasal ulcers, they are very difficult to diagnose for non-experts.

"We are currently working on a method for the early and rapid diagnosis of those ulcers.

"In any case, keeping cattle stress-free is one way of preventing stomach ulcers," Ms Hund recommended.

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