Poor calf production and ill thrift in 3–4 mo olds are common limiting problems in raising and maintaining captive muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus). Acute onset of a rapidly progressing enteritis and septicemia in neonatal calves (2–7 days of age) caused by Escherichia coli not normally considered pathogenic in domestic animals is a serious problem in many captive muskoxen facilities. Serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels, total protein, albumin, and globulin levels in captive periparturient muskox females and their neonatal calves were compared with levels found in other species in which these parameters have been well described. Results showed that all females in the study had IgG present in their serum (mean = 1,232.14 mg/dl, SD = 178.34 mg/dl, as measured via radial immunodiffusion). Calves were probably born agammaglobulinemic or hypogammaglobulinemic. IgG levels quickly rose in calves after initial colostrum intake to levels similar to those seen in other domestic ruminants. Our results suggest that passive transfer of immunity in muskoxen is similar to what is reported in domestic livestock and that reference ranges from domestic cattle may be used to assist interpretation of serum IgG levels in muskoxen. In addition, the positive relationship between serum protein and globulin levels with serum IgG levels is similar to that reported for Holstein cattle and thus provides a useful indicator of passive transfer in muskoxen.
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Vol. 38 • No. 1