The objective of this study was to evaluate if Moraxella bovoculi was associated with Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) using a corneal scarification model in calves. A 3-arm single-eye block-randomized and blinded challenge study was designed as follows: corneal scarification only, corneal scarification and inoculation with M. bovoculi (ATCC strain: BAA-1259; origin: CA) and corneal scarification and inoculation with Moraxella bovis (strain Epp63-300; origin: NADC). The study was conducted in 3 replicates of 10-12 animals housed in individual pens with no nose-to-nose contact. Calves were enrolled after an ophthalmologist confirmed the absence of corneal, conjunctival, and eyelid abnormalities. Calves were scarified and inoculated in one randomly selected eye, then observed for the primary outcome of interest (corneal ulcers) until euthanized 10 days following scarification. Research group members assessing the outcome were blind to allocation status. The study was approved by the institutional animal care and use committee. Of 36 animals purchased for the study, 5 were excluded prior to enrollment due to ophthalmic abnormalities. Of the 31 enrolled calves, 9/10 (90%) of M. bovis calves, 0/10 (0%) of M. bovoculi calves and 1/11 (9%) of control calves developed corneal ulcerations consistent with IBK in the scarified eyes. The absence of corneal ulcerations in M. bovoculi BAA-1259 inoculated calves suggests it is not a causal organism for IBK in this model and the pathogenicity of this ATCC strain has not been established. Consistent corneal ulceration development in the M. bovis inoculated group demonstrates the ability of the model to induce IBK ulcers.
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