Protothecal enteritis as a cause of protein-losing enteropathy in a bull. Academic Article uri icon


  • Prototheca spp are achlorophyllic saprophytic algae found in wastewater, sewage, agricultural waste, and possibly elsewhere in the environment. Infections with these organisms have been reported in cattle, humans, and dogs; affected cattle commonly develop mastitis. A 5-year-old Brahman-cross bull was evaluated because of a history of diarrhea and weight loss. The history and physical examination and clinicopathologic findings were similar to those associated with granulomatous enteritis caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis (Johne's disease), which is the most common protein-losing enteropathy of cattle. However, diagnostic tests for paratuberculosis yielded negative results. Biopsy specimens from the ileum, jejunum, and ileocecal lymph node were collected for histologic examination and preparation of tissue impression smears; Prototheca-like organisms were identified. Because of the poor prognosis associated with this infection and the lack of safe and economical therapeutic agents for cattle, the owner decided to euthanatize the bull. Infection with Prototheca organisms was confirmed postmortem. As this case illustrates, protothecosis may be a cause of granulomatous enteritis in cattle.

published proceedings

  • J Am Vet Med Assoc

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Osterstock, J. B., Mansell, J. L., & Roussel, A. J.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Osterstock, Jason B||Mansell, Joanne L||Roussel, Allen J

publication date

  • November 2005