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Research Foundation

Cattle Liver Abscess and Foot Rot Vaccine

Reference Number: 11-03, 00-01, 95-12, and 92-29

Inventors: T.G. Nagaraja, George Stewart, Sanjeev Narayanan, M.M. Chengappa


Researchers at Kansas State University have developed multiple vaccines to prevent liver abscesses caused by Fusobacterium necrophorum or Actinomyces pyogenes. The two organisms are normally present in the rumen of cattle and under certain conditions they cross the ruminal wall and reach the liver to cause abscesses.

In one version, the vaccine consists of inactivated leukotoxin of F. necrophorum and killed whole cells (Bacterin) of A. pyogenes. Leukotoxin is the major virulence factor of F. necrophorum and antileukotoxin antibodies have been shown to protect against F. necrophorum infection.

In another version, a recombinant protein version of the initial vaccine technology has been developed to decrease the cost to manufacture. This form of vaccine has been improved in its efficiency by isolating the leukotoxin, determining its nucleotide sequence and expressing the recombinant in E. coli. Two polypeptide sections of the full strand of F. necrophorum have been identified as the proteins most responsible for prevention against infection and, therefore, liver abscess formation. Lab tests for this new development were carried out in mice, an animal proven in previous experiments to closely mimic results seen in cattle. Mice treated with these two polypeptide strands produced fewer liver abscesses than those treated with the full strand of F. necrophorum.

In the most recent advancement, an outer membrane protein was discovered in F. necrophorum that may play a critical role in the bacteria’s binding to the host cell surfaces. Researchers at K-State hypothesize that this outer membrane protein may serve as an effective antigen at inhibiting fusobacterial attachment to host cells and may be an effective strategy to prevent fusobacterial infection.

Abscessed livers in slaughtered feedlot cattle generally are recognized as part of aggressive feeding programs. The incidence in most feedlots averages 12% to 32%. Liver abscesses are significant liabilities to the producer and the packer. Abscesses are the major cause of liver condemnation in the United States. Besides loss of liver, carcass trimming is often necessary, which costs packers and producers money. However, the greatest economic impact of liver abscesses is from the reduced animal performance. A number of studies involving comparison of cattle with or without abscesses have documented that cattle with abscessed livers have reduced feed intake, reduced weight gain, decreased feed efficiency, and decreased carcass yield.

Liver abscess has been shown to have the following negative impacts on cattle:

  • 11% decrease in performance
  • 9.7% decrease in feed efficiency
  • Reduced feed intake
  • Reduced carcass dressing percentage


  • Performance gains: Improved feed efficiency and feed intake
  • Efficacy: Proven effective in real-world feedlot conditions
  • Safe:
    • Purification process removes all residual toxins and bacterium
    • Large-scale implementation has proven the vaccine to be well tolerated at injection site
  • Convenience:
    • Complies with Beef Quality Assurance standards


  • Vaccine to prevent liver abscesses and foot rot in feedlot cattle
  • Potential vaccine to prevent foot rot in sheep

Patent Status

  • International Patent Protection (#14/007,611) filed in USA on September 25, 2013.
  • US 6,669,940 & US 7,449,310 B2 with international patent protection in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and United Kingdom.
  • US 5,861,162 with international patent protection in Argentina, Canada, Japan, and Mexico.
  • US 5,455,034 & US 5,492,694 with international patent protection in Canada and Mexico.

Kansas State University Research Foundation seeks to have discussions with companies that are interested in licensing and/or research collaborations.

Interested parties should contact:

Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization (KSU-IC)
2005 Research Park Circle Manhattan, KS 66502
Tel: 785-532-3900 Fax: 785-532-3909
E-Mail: ic@k-state.edu