Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in JOURNAL OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY, Mar. 2006, p. 772–776 Vol. 44, No. 3. Copyright © 2006, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


Infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) is a highly contagious ocular disease that affects cattle of all ages and that occurs worldwide. Piliated hemolytic Moraxella bovis is recognized as the etiologic agent of IBK. According to data from the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System, however, Moraxella (Branhamella) ovis has been isolated with increasing frequency from cattle affected with IBK. The objective of this study was, therefore, to examine M. ovis field isolates for the presence of the putative virulence factors of M. bovis. Culture filtrates from selected M. ovis field isolates demonstrated hemolytic activity on bovine erythrocytes and cytotoxic activity on bovine peripheral blood mononuclear cells and corneal epithelial cells. The hemolytic activity of the culture filtrates was attenuated after heat treatment. Polyclonal antibodies raised against the M. bovis hemolysin-cytotoxin also recognized a protein of approximately 98 kDa in a Western blot assay. These data indicate that the M. ovis field isolates examined produce one or more heat-labile exotoxins and may suggest that M. ovis plays a role in the pathogenesis of IBK.