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Prevalence of Neospora caninum in Belgian cattle
Neospora caninum is a protozoan parasite, which causes fetal and neonatal mortality in livestock and companion animals. How common is this parasite really responsible for abortion? An interesting study in Belgium including more than 200 aborted fetuses has the answer.

In 224 abortions in Belgian cattle, different diagnostic methods were used to demonstrate infection, and the presence of N. caninum.

An indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) was used to analyze fetal and maternal sera and immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed when lesions consistent with neosporosis were observed in the brain, heart or liver.

Twenty dairy cattle sera out of 70 (29%) and 13 beef cattle sera out of 93 (14%) were positive by IFAT. A positive titer to N. caninum was found in seven and three fetuses born to beef and dairy cows, respectively.

Lesions consistent with N. caninum infection were observed in 17 fetuses.

Of nine positive beef fetuses, five were confirmed by IHC while, all but one dairy fetus were confirmed using the same technique.Age had no influence on the serological status of the mother (P = 0.486) whereas husbandry system had a borderline influence (P = 0.082).

However, a strong association (P = 0.004) between the level of antibodies in the dam and the occurrence of lesions in the fetus was observed and lesions were more prominent in dairy than in beef fetuses.

Additionally, the distribution of intra-cerebral lesions was more extensive in dairy than in beef fetuses (P < 0.0001).

Age and serological status of the fetus were found to influence the occurrence of lesions in beef fetuses (both P < 0.001) but no such significant relationships could be demonstrated in dairy fetuses.

The study indicated that N. caninum must be considered as an important cause of bovine abortion in Belgium.



Source: De Meerschman F, Speybroeck N, Berkvens D, Rettignera C, Focant C, Leclipteux T, Cassart D, Losson B. (2002): Fetal infection with Neospora caninum in dairy and beef cattle in Belgium. in: Theriogenology. 2002 Sep;58(5):933-45.



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