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Introduction. Neonatal calves are often deficient in iron. Accumulating evidence indicates that iron status is associated with disease pathologies including diarrhea. Our objective was to examine the association between iron status and gut function in neonatal calves with and without a history of calf diarrhea.
Materials and Methods. Calves were divided into two groups based on their history of diarrhea; the first group were diarrheic calves (n=6) and the second group were non-diarrheic healthy calves (n=6). Blood samples (n=12) were collected at day 12 of age and erythrogram determination and measurements of serum iron and total iron binding capacity were performed. Hematological values were measured using an automatic analyzer, and biochemical properties were determined spectrophotometrically. Fecal samples were obtained from all calves and pH measured using semi quantitative test strips as well as being examined by bacterial cultivation for enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp. and Clostridium perfringens, by RT-PCR for the presence of bovine rotavirus, bovine coronavirus and bovine viral diarrhea virus, and by microscopy for the presence of Cryptosporidium parvum.
Results and Conclusions. There were significant iron-related changes for most hematological indices in diarrheic calves; and iron (Fe) deficiency and microcytic, hypochromic anemia were diagnosed. The pH of the feces was significantly higher in diarrheic calves than in the non-diarrheic healthy group (P<0.01). All fecal samples were negative for the analyzed enteric pathogens. According to the results obtained, calves experiencing iron deficiency anemia exhibit changes in gut function leading to diarrhea as compared with a matched group of healthy calves.
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