October 2018

Signalment (JPC #1788178):  Yearling heifer

HISTORY:  This heifer had protracted bloody diarrhea.  Gross lesions were noted in the oral cavity, the esophagus, rumen, and small and large intestines.

HISTOPATHOLOGIC DESCRIPTION:  Slide D-V09a:  Colon:  Diffusely, the mucosa is thin and there is marked erosion and necrosis/loss of up to 50% of the glands and expansion of the lamina propria by hemorrhage, fibrin, edema, moderate numbers of degenerate and viable neutrophils, macrophages, fewer lymphocytes, and plasma cells.  The remaining glands are ectatic (up to 250 um) with attenuated cuboidal to flat epithelium, and contain low to moderate numbers of degenerate and viable neutrophils, macrophages, sloughed epithelial cells, cellular and karyorrhectic debris, and fibrin (crypt abscesses).  Multifocally ectatic glands extend into or thru the muscularis mucosa and into the submucosa (crypt herniation).  Necrotic debris and previously mentioned inflammatory cells are also present within the lumen of the colon.  Less affected glands exhibit loss of mucous cells and there is multifocal erosion and ulceration of the superficial mucosal epithelium.  The submucosa contains previously described inflammatory cells in low to moderate numbers and mild hemorrhage, and there is an absence of lymphoid tissue.  Expanding the submucosa and dissecting into the muscularis are ectatic lymphatics and increased clear space (edema) and fibrin. There is multifocal mesothelial cell hypertrophy.

Slide D-V09b:  Esophagus:  Affecting approximately 40% of the mucosal surface with variable extension to the submucosa, there are multifocal well demarcated areas of mucosal erosion and necrosis affecting the stratum corneum and granulosum, and extending into the stratum spinosum; changes are characterized by loss of epithelium with replacement by necrotic debris, many degenerate neutrophils which occasionally form microabscesses, fibrin, and fewer eosinophils and lymphocytes, and mild hemorrhage and edema.  Adjacent to areas of erosion, epithelial cells have pale swollen, vacuolated cytoplasm and/or demonstrate hydropic degeneration (degeneration) or lack differential staining with pyknosis and karyolysis (necrosis) with few transmigrating neutrophils.  There is mild submucosal edema underlying the basil epithelium, and low numbers of neutrophils, lymphocytes and plasma cells are present within the superficial submucosa.

Slide D-V09b:  Lymph node:  Subcapsular and medullary sinuses are expanded by moderately increased clear space (edema) with increased numbers of draining macrophages, neutrophils, fewer eosinophils, and fibrin.  In the hilus, a medium-sized artery contains an organized thrombus.


  1. 1. Colon:  Colitis, erosive, subacute, diffuse, severe, with crypt abscesses and marked transmural edema, breed unspecified, bovine.
  2. Esophagus: Esophagitis, necrotizing, subacute, multifocal, moderate.
  3. Lymph node, site unspecified: Edema, diffuse, moderate, with sinus histiocytosis.

ETIOLOGIC DIAGNOSIS:  Pestiviral colitis and esophagitis

CAUSE:  Bovine pestivirus

CONDITION(S):  Bovine viral diarrhea; mucosal disease



Fetal infection 



Persistent infection (PI)

Mucosal disease

Classical BVD

Severe Acute Bovine Viral Diarrhea:







Other pestiviruses of domestic animals:


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  2. Broaddus CC, Lamm CG, Kapil S, Dawson L, Holyoak GR. Bovine viral diarrhea virus abortion in goats housed with persistently infected cattle. Vet Pathol 2009;46: 45.
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  10. Smith BP. In: Smith BP, ed. Large Animal Internal Medicine. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Elsevier; 2009: 112-113, 610-611,791-798,1055-1056,1278-1279.
  11. Uzal FA, Plattner BL, Hostetter JM. Alimentary system. In: Maxie MG, ed. Jubb, Kennedy, and Palmer’s Pathology of Domestic Animals. Vol 2. 6th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2016:122-127.
  12. Walz PH, Grooms DL, Passler T, et al. Control of bovine viral diarrhea virus in ruminants. J Vet Intern Med. 2010;24:476–486.
  13. Zachary JF. Mechanisms of microbial infections. In: Zachary JF, ed. Pathologic Basis of Veterinary Disease. 6th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:200-201.

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