Molecular detection of Treponema species organisms in foremilk and udder cleft skin of dairy cows with digital dermatitis

  • Nader Maher Sobhy
  • Yasser S. MahmmodEmail author
  • Walid Refaai
  • Ashraf Awad
Regular Articles


Identification of reservoirs and transmission routes of digital dermatitis (DD)-associated Treponema spp. is considered an effective means for controlling DD infection in dairy cows. The objective of this study is to identify and characterize the potential reservoir niches for DD-associated Treponema spp. from healthy udder cleft skin and foremilk in lactating dairy cows. A large dairy farm was visited weekly from March to July 2015. Clinical investigation revealed that a total of 25 lame cows had DD lesions located at the plantar aspect of the interdigital cleft. A total of 75 samples, three per cow, were collected including deep swabs from DD lesions (n = 25), non-aseptically collected foremilk samples (n = 25) and skin swabs from udder cleft (n = 25). Treponema spp. were identified using nested PCR assays and confirmed by DNA sequencing. Results revealed that Treponema phagedenis (T. phagedenis)–like was the most identified species in the foremilk 40% (10/25), in comparison with DD lesions and udder cleft skin samples with 32% (8/25) and 20% (5/25), respectively. On the other hand, Treponema pedis (T. pedis) was the most identified species in the udder cleft skin 80% (20/25), in comparison with DD lesions and foremilk samples with 68% (17/25) and 60% (15/25), respectively. None of the examined samples were identified by PCR as containing DNA from Treponema medium (T. medium) or Treponema vincentii (T. vincentii)–like. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report for detection of T. phagedenis–like and T. pedis from healthy skin of udder cleft and foremilk samples. Detection of DD Treponema spp. from udder cleft skin and foremilk samples indicates that these sites could be potential reservoirs for spirochetes involved in DD. Udder cleft skin and foremilk may have a role in transmission routes of DD Treponema in dairy farms.


Dairy cows Digital dermatitis Treponema Reservoirs Udder cleft 



The authors would like to thank the management staff of the farm for their logistic support. Special thanks to the farm workers for their help and patience during animal examination and collection of samples.

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

11250_2019_2072_MOESM1_ESM.docx (960 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 960 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineZagazig UniversityZagazigEgypt
  2. 2.Department of Veterinary Population MedicineUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  3. 3.Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal (CReSA, IRTA)Campus de la Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Department of Surgery, Anesthesiology, and Radiology, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineZagazig UniversityZagazigEgypt
  6. 6.Department of Animal Wealth Development, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineZagazig UniversityZagazigEgypt

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