ISSN 2398-2993      

Uterine infection: overview


Wiley Blackwell

Jo Oultram

Wiley Blackwell logo

Synonym(s): Metritis, endometritis, pyometra, vaginal discharge


  • Uterine infections are a frequent disorder during the postpartum period.
  • 20-40% of dairy cattle may develop one or more uterine diseases during lactation. In addition to the animal welfare implications of uterine disease, it also results in economic loss, due to:
    • Decreased milk yield.
    • Impaired fertility.
    • Premature culling.
    • Death.
  • The three principal postpartum uterine infections are metritis, endometritis and pyometra.
  • Prolonged calving, twins, dystocia, and retained fetal membranes (RFM) are often implicated as predisposing factors for uterine infection.
  • Although metritis, endometritis, pyometra and retained fetal membranes are distinct clinical condition, they do share common etiologies and treatments and also predispose to one another, Together, these conditions result in significant infertility problems for the cattle industry.
  • Dairy cattle seem to be more susceptible than beef cattle or are more likely to be presented for examination on an individual or herd basis. The reasons for this may include:
    • Due to the pressures of lactation, dairy cattle body systems are under increased stress and are thus more likely to be in a state of negative energy balance and/or immunocompromised.
    • Dairy cattle are more intensively housed, than beef cattle, and are, therefore more likely to be exposed to pathogenic strains of bacteria.
    • Dairy cattle are observed more closely than beef cattle, and so it is more likely that issues will be picked up by the stock person.
  • The proportion of cattle developing uterine disease varies greatly, even between what outwardly appear to be similar farms in the same geographical region. Milk production, hygiene, and other specific farm management factors should be evaluated.


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Defining uterine infections

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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
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Other sources of information

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