AAHP Field Disease Investigation Unit

Cows looking at Dr. Sischo collect data in the field

WSU Field Disease Investigative Unit and Agricultural Animal Health Program

About the AAHP Field Disease Investigation Unit (FDIU)

We are an interdisciplinary group with members from the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Sciences, University of Idaho, and the WIMU consortium.  We work with animal agriculture production systems of all sizes with a focus to optimize animal wellbeing and health and the safety, abundance, access, and wholesomeness of animal-origin products. We conduct translational field research, develop hands-on teaching experiences for students, conduct outreach to address field-based issues in food animal production, and engage in extension programming that reaches veterinarians, producers, extension-educators, youth interested in agriculture, and industry support. 


• Engage with large and small production systems
• Focus on animal wellbeing and health
• Support and promote food security
• Translational research, community outreach, education, and extension



G. S. Slanzon 1, L. M. Parrish 1, S. C. Trombetta 1, W. M. Sischo ¹, C. S. McConnel1

Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University.

GI disease is the most common illness in preweaned dairy calves. The fecal microbiome composition is associated with health status, but changes in the microbiome across different levels of GI disease and different breeds remain unclear. Our objective was to associate the clinical symptoms of GI disease and breed differences with the fecal microbiome. Fecal samples were collected from calves (n=360) 5-15 d of age and health status was clinically evaluated daily. Calves with fecal scores of 3 (loose) or 4 (watery) were diagnosed with diarrhea and classified as bright-sick (BS) or depressed-sick (DS) according to behavior. Calves with fecal scores <3 with no clinical illness were classified as healthy. Sixty-one fecal samples from healthy calves and 30 samples from diarrheic calves were selected to represent different breeds and ages. The V3-V4 region of 16S rRNA gene was sequenced and analyzed using a DADA2 pipeline. An ASV table was used to compare taxonomic profiles and differences were identified by LEfSe (p<0.05; LDA score >2). A Beta-diversity plot demonstrated independent clustering indicating differences in the microbial composition of healthy calves and those at the onset of diarrhea (BS or DS). Firmicutes was identified as the most dominant phylum in diarrheic calves, and Actinobacteria in healthy calves. At the family level, healthy calves showed abundant Bifidobacteriaceae, Bacteroidaceae, Prevotellaceae, Eubacteriaceae. BS calves showed abundant Listeriaceae, Clostridiaceae and Lachnospiraceae. DS calves showed abundant Lactobacillaceae, Streptococcaceae and Enterobacteriaceae. Breed differences included greater abundance of the families Bacteroidaceae and Eubacteriaceae in healthy Jersey calves, whereas Bifidobacteriaceae was abundant in healthy Holstein calves, and Rhodospirillaceae was abundant in healthy Jersey-cross calves. Enterobacteriaceae was abundant in DS Holstein calves, the order Lactobacillales was abundant in DS Jersey calves, and Veillonellaceae was abundant in DS Jersey-cross calves. Clostridiaceae and the order Lactobacillales were abundant in BS Jersey-cross calves.