Prevalence and effect ofTheileria orientalisinfection in homebred calves in the Gloucester region of New South Wales, Australia

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ObjectivesTo examine the prevalence of Theileria orientalis in the Gloucester area of New South Wales and its effect on individual animals.MethodsBlood samples (EDTA and clotted blood) were collected from a total of 55 calves and their dams from 6 properties over a 16-week period. A total of 202 and 190 blood samples were collected from the calves and dams, respectively, and were examined via blood film for the presence of intraerythrocytic T. orientalis piroplasms. Packed cell volume (PCV) was measured to determine infection resulting in anaemia. The presence of antibodies against the T. orientalis major piroplasm surface protein (MPSP) was tested using ELISA.ResultsThe overall prevalence of T. orientalis infection in both dams and calves from all herds examined was 95%. Mean peak parasitaemia was observed in calves between 6 and 9 weeks of age (P = 0.051), coinciding with a decline in mean PCV. Only 3 (6%) of the blood samples collected from the dams were positive for Theileria-associated antibodies and no significant relationship (P > 0.05) was found between the presence of antibodies in the dams and PCV levels in the calves. There was no evidence that passive transfer of antibodies from dams to calves protected the calves against a decline in PCV.ConclusionThis study confirmed a high prevalence of low-level Theileria infection, but low MPSP seroconversion rates, in dams and calves in an area where the disease has been endemic for a number of years.

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