Probiotic Treatment's Effects on Gut Health in Calves With Diarrhea

Jim Crocker
6th April, 2024

Probiotic Treatment's Effects on Gut Health in Calves With Diarrhea

Image Source: Vedat Kandemir (photographer)

Key Findings

  • In Pakistan, a study found a probiotic can help calves recover from rotavirus-induced gut imbalances
  • The probiotic, Limosilactobacillus fermentum, restored beneficial gut bacteria diversity in sick calves
  • This treatment offers a sustainable alternative to antibiotics for managing calf diarrhea
Diarrhea in young calves is not just a concern for the health of the animals but also represents a significant economic burden for the livestock industry. Bovine rotavirus (BRV) is a common cause of diarrhea in these animals, and it can disrupt the natural balance of the gut's microbial community, also known as gut microbiota. This imbalance, or dysbiosis, can have detrimental effects on the health and development of calves. A recent study by the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences[1] has focused on a potential solution to this problem. Researchers explored the use of a specific probiotic, Limosilactobacillus fermentum, to counteract the negative effects of BRV on calf gut health. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that, when administered in adequate amounts, can confer a health benefit to the host. In this case, the probiotic aims to restore a healthy balance to the gut microbiota of the affected calves. The study involved three groups of calves: healthy calves served as a control group, calves with diarrhea caused by BRV before treatment, and calves that had recovered from BRV-induced diarrhea after receiving the probiotic treatment. To determine the presence of rotavirus, the researchers used a technique called Reverse Transcriptase PCR, which is a method to detect the genetic material of the virus. Fecal samples from all three groups were analyzed using a technique known as 16S metagenomic analysis. This method allows scientists to identify and quantify the different types of bacteria present in the gut by sequencing a specific region of bacterial DNA. The Illumina sequencing technique, a highly accurate form of DNA sequencing, was employed, and the data were processed using a software called QIIME 2. The results of the study showed that the probiotic treatment had a positive effect on the calves' gut microbiota. Specifically, it helped restore the diversity and abundance of beneficial bacterial communities that are often depleted during rotavirus infection. This finding is significant because previous research has indicated that healthy calves tend to have higher levels of certain beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bacteroides, and lower levels of potentially harmful bacteria like Escherichia and Clostridium[2]. This balance of bacteria is associated with better overall physiological parameters in calves, such as normal levels of white blood cells and serum glucose concentration. The findings of the current study align with earlier research that highlighted the importance of the gut microbiota in the early stages of calf development[3]. Newborn calves have a developing immune system and gastrointestinal barrier, making them susceptible to infections. The study underscores the potential of using probiotics as an alternative to antibiotics, which can lead to bacterial resistance and residues in meat. Moreover, the prevalence of both bovine rotavirus and bovine coronavirus in calves with diarrhea, as reported in an earlier study[4], emphasizes the need for effective treatments that target these infections. The current study's focus on BRV and the use of probiotics could also be relevant for managing other viral infections in calves, considering the overlapping symptoms and potential for co-infection. In summary, the study by the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences provides evidence that the administration of the probiotic Limosilactobacillus fermentum can help in the recovery of gut microbiota diversity following rotavirus infection in calves. This intervention not only aids in the health and growth of the animals but also offers a sustainable approach to managing calf diarrhea without the drawbacks associated with antibiotic use. As livestock producers continue to seek out responsible and effective health management strategies, the findings from this study could inform future practices in calf rearing and disease prevention.

HealthBiotechAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Impact of Limosilactobacillus fermentum probiotic treatment on gut microbiota composition in sahiwal calves with rotavirus diarrhea: A 16S metagenomic analysis study”

Published 4th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Rotavirus-mediated alteration of gut microbiota and its correlation with physiological characteristics in neonatal calves.

3) Modulating gastrointestinal microbiota to alleviate diarrhea in calves.

4) Prevalence of rotavirus (GARV) and coronavirus (BCoV) associated with neonatal diarrhea in calves in western Algeria.

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