The data bearing on these three cases are quite sufficient to rule out Bacillus abortus as the agent. Not only the cultures and guinea pig tests of fetal tissues and contents of the digestive tract, but also the agglutination and guinea pig tests of the milk, were negative. The same is true of the agglutination tests of the blood serum. Only in one case was the placenta obtained in part. The stained films and the sections from various regions showed no abortion bacilli. Guinea pig tests of placental tissue were negative for Bacillus abortus. On the other hand) minute organisms resembling vibrios were detected in the cytoplasm of endothelial cells within capillaries in the edematous subchorionic tissue. Subsequently the agglutination titer of the blood serum of one of these cases rose to a level indicating infection with Bacillus abortus during the second pregnancy.
The peculiar distribution of abortions due to Vibrio fetus among older cows and heifers in this herd, resulting at first in cases among older cows and latterly passing to young stock, may be explained by certain occurrences in the herd itself. It may be assumed that the infection was originally brought in by purchased cows. The young stock is kept segregated from these in a special barn, and when 6 months old it is pastured on outlying farms until returned in an advanced stage of pregnancy. The heifers during the first pregnancy were thus kept away from vibrio carriers until after the first calf was born.
In June and July, 1919, 55 older cows, purchased and native, were placed on the young stock pasture. The three cases of abortion in heifers due to Vibrio fetus occurred October 24, November 9, and December 2, 1919. The age and condition of the fetuses accord very well with the assumption that Vibrio fetus was introduced among the young stock in June or July of the same year.
The information gathered thus far concerning vibrionic abortion in this herd enables us to formulate a tentative hypothesis subject to modification with increasing knowledge of this type of infectious abortion. The infectious agent was probably introduced by purchased cows in 1917 or earlier. It gained a certain headway up to 1919, then the number of cases declined so that between May, 1919, and May, 1920, only the above three cases in heifers, and one case of mixed infection with Bacillus abortus in an older cow, were detected. During the same period cases due to Bacillus abortus continued undiminished. The greater resistance of Bacillus abortus manifested in cultures as compared with Vibrio fetus is thus reflected in its behavior in nature. The temporary dying out of the infection indicates that natural immunization of a herd to Vibrio fetus proceeds quite rapidly. Another outbreak may be expected when the immunity of the herd has declined in the absence of the infecting agent and the latter is reintroduced from without, or it may reappear at any time when a vibrio of higher virulence is brought in.