Neospora caninum Abortion in Cattle
Guy Sheppard, DVM
Neospora caninum is a protozoal organism that is associated with abortion in cattle and the birth of weak calves. Dogs are the definitive hosts for this organism, and the organism is spread in the feces of infected dogs. Cattle become infected by ingesting the organism in feedstuffs contaminated with infected dog feces, but vertical transmission from infected cows is also possible.
Abortions due to Neospora infection usually occur at 5-6 months of pregnancy, and they are more common in dairy cattle than beef cattle. An ELISA test for serum antibodies is available, but the presence of antibodies does not necessarily incriminate the organism as the cause of an abortion. Definitive diagnosis of Neospora abortion depends on evidence of the organism in the fetal tissue by histopathology and/or PCR testing. The organism has an affinity for brain and heart tissue in the fetus, and these organs make the best specimens to use for diagnosis.
No vaccine is available against this disease, and prevention requires restricting dogs’ access to cattle feedstuffs.
For more information about TVMDL’s testing options for this disease and many others, visit tvmdl.tamu.edu or call 1.888.646.5623.
Peek, Simon F., Neospora, Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Ruminant; Scott R.R. Haskell, DVM, editor. 2008 pgs. 618-619.