During 1987 when cob rot was rife, perinatal losses were reported in flocks and herds that had been exposed to diplodiosis. The affected lambs or calves were either stillborn or died soon after birth. Dosing trials at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Institute involving 82 ewes revealed that 66% of the offspring of dams exposed to cultures of Diplodia maydis (= Stenocarpella maydis) in the second trimester of pregnancy and 87% of lambs of ewes exposed in the third trimester were born dead or died soon afterwards. A status spongiosus similar to that of the field cases was present in the white matter of the brains of all the affected lambs. The lambs of ewes that had shown nervous signs and those of ewes that had not shown such signs were equally affected. The experiments also clearly demonstrated that foetuses were much more susceptible to diplodiosis than the adults, e.g. in the third trimester 87% of the lambs were affected compared to only 44% of the dams. No perinatal mortalities were recorded in the group exposed to the culture in the first trimester.
Ewes developed significant resistance to intoxication after initial exposure to the culture and both the length of gestation and birth mass of the affected lambs were less than those of their untreated counterparts.
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