General description
  • A granuloma is a firm, often fleshy, lump found growing on cattle.
  • They are mostly found on the mouth, jaw, tongue or lymph nodes, occasionally affecting internal organs.
  • They can be fibrous, even bony, and can contain pus or other material.
  • Affected lesions and tissues are condemned at meat inspection.
  • There are multiple causes, mostly due to slow-growing infection of the site. Baceteria involved can include tuberculosis-causing mycobacteria (Australia is recognised to be free of cattle tuberculosis, but surveillance remains active) along with actinobacillosis (bacteria producing ‘woody tongue’) and actinomycosis (fungi producing ‘lumpy jaw’).
Clinical signs
  • Cattle with benign granulomas may be physically impacted by the presence of the mass. If this affects the mouth, they may show signs of difficulty eating such as emaciation. Cattle with underlying infections may also show signs related to the infection such as fever and depression.
  • Woody tongue results in a swollen, firm, painful and immobile tongue. Affected cattle often stand open-mouthed, drool saliva, have trouble eating and show signs of pain.
  • Lumpy jaw results in bony swelling of either the lower or upper jaw with occasional pus-draining sinuses producing a thick discharge and foul smell. Affected cattle may have trouble eating and chewing.
  • Cattle with tuberculosis may be normal but may experience wasting and emaciation. Tuberculosis granulomas may be apparent on internal inspection.
  • Affected organs are condemned, affected carcases may be condemned if there are signs of spread.
  • Cattle under suspicion of tuberculosis are condemned and pathology samples are sent for further testing.
  • Lesions suspicious of tuberculosis are sent for confirmatory testing at a veterinary laboratory.
  • Lumpy jaw and woody tongue are diagnosed by their characteristic clinical signs.
  • A mouth examination can eliminate a foreign body (like a stick or bone) lodged in the mouth.
  • There are no effective treatments for most granulomas; especially if long-established.
  • Early-onset woody tongue and lumpy jaw may be treated with antibiotics and iodine formulations.
  • If the tongue or jaw is damaged to the point it has permanently lost function, the animal should be sent for salvage slaughter if it is fit to travel or destroyed if unable to be shipped or in pain.
  • Remove affected animals from the mob as they can become a source of infection for herd mates.
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