The Neospora test identifies Neospora caninum, a protozoal (Apicomplexan) parasite that is thought to be a leading cause of abortion and neonatal morbidity in dairy cattle.
Since there is no known drug to cure a cow of Neospora, parasite control is based on culling positive animals, preventing entry of infected replacements into the herd, and preventing likely routes of horizontal infection. Since clinical signs of illness due to Neospora are undetectable, testing for the parasite is the only means of identification.
What is Neospora?
Neospora caninum, a protozoal (Apicomplexan) parasite, is a leading cause of abortion and neonatal morbidity in dairy cattle. The parasite, also found in sheep and dogs has been identified worldwide. Dogs and other canids, such as wolves and coyotes have been pinpointed as the definitive source, hosting the parasite until it becomes mature and reproduces. The parasite passes through feces and can infect cattle feed and water supplies. Since clinical signs of illness due to Neospora are undetectable, testing for the parasite is the only means of identification. No treatment of any proven benefit has yet been identified for cattle. Use of ELISA testing allows cattle owners and operators to assess infection information or exposure status while also monitoring immune status in Neospora caninum-vaccinated herds.
SYMPTOMS OF NEOSPORA
- Asymptomatic mother
- Abortion, between the third and ninth month of pregnancy
- Still birth/premature calf
- Occasionally, brain disease seen at birth
- Repeated abortions in the same cow
- Characteristic heart and brain damage in aborted calf
- Identification of parasite in the calf tissue
- Antibodies in the mother’s blood
All cattle with antibodies to Neospora are sources of infection to their calves, have a significantly increased risk of abortion, and, on average, produce less milk than antibody negative cows. Vertical transmission alone can maintain infection in a herd.
To eliminate Neospora you need to:
- Through testing, identify infected cattle and cull them
- Select only seronegative cattle for breeding
- Sell heifers with antibodies for meat, not breeding
Dogs are a potential source of disease. Prevention must also include:
- Keeping cattle food and water away from dogs and foxes
- High hygiene standards at calving. Dispose of placental membranes and aborted or dead calves before dogs can get them