The occurrence of treponemes in contagious ovine digital dermatitis and the characterisation of associated Dichelobacter nodosus

Vet Microbiol. 2005 Dec 20;111(3-4):199-209. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2005.10.016. Epub 2005 Nov 8.


Contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD) is a recently recorded, apparently new infection of the ovine hoof, which differs clinically from footrot caused by Dichelobacter nodosus and which fails to respond well to accepted treatment practices for footrot. Despite the welfare implications of such an infection, very little research has been performed on CODD to date and the aetiology remains confused. Suggestions have been made that there is a potential role for treponemes in the pathogenesis of CODD but that D. nodosus is apparently not involved. Six farms were therefore targeted in this study to provide a more in-depth investigation into the bacterial flora of CODD lesions. Dark ground microscopy, culture and PCR techniques were used, concentrating on the presence of D. nodosus and spirochaetes, particularly those of the genus Treponema. The results demonstrated that isolates of D. nodosus were indeed present in a high percentage (74%) of CODD lesions compared with 31% of apparently healthy feet. The isolates were shown to be of similar virulence type to those reported previously in cases of footrot, and the range of serogroups was also found to be similar to footrot, with serogroup H being prevalent. Treponemes were present in 70% of CODD lesions and 38% of apparently healthy feet, supporting a possible association between CODD and treponemes. However, any further progress on the aetiology of CODD and the potential for novel, effective treatment will depend on an improved ability to culture these organisms routinely in the laboratory thereby enabling their complete characterisation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dichelobacter nodosus / classification
  • Dichelobacter nodosus / isolation & purification*
  • Dichelobacter nodosus / ultrastructure
  • Foot Dermatoses / diagnosis
  • Foot Dermatoses / epidemiology
  • Foot Dermatoses / microbiology
  • Foot Dermatoses / veterinary*
  • Foot Rot / diagnosis
  • Foot Rot / epidemiology
  • Foot Rot / microbiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / analysis
  • Serotyping / veterinary
  • Sheep
  • Sheep Diseases / diagnosis
  • Sheep Diseases / epidemiology
  • Sheep Diseases / microbiology*
  • Treponema / classification
  • Treponema / isolation & purification*
  • Treponema / ultrastructure
  • Treponemal Infections / diagnosis
  • Treponemal Infections / epidemiology
  • Treponemal Infections / microbiology
  • Treponemal Infections / veterinary*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S