Epidemiology and Impact ofNeospora caninumInfection in Three Queensland Tropical Dairy Herds

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ContentsThis study investigated the epidemiology of Neospora caninum in three tropical dairy herds in North Queensland, Australia. All animals in the herds were bled, and the sera were tested by ELISA for N. caninum antibodies. Herd records were examined, and the number of calves carried to term and the number of abortions which occurred over the lifetime of each animal were recorded to determine the abortion rate for each animal. Pedigrees were constructed for two of the herds to investigate whether vertical transmission was occurring. The seroprevalence of N. caninum ranged from 23% to 34%. The abortion rate in seropositive animals was significantly (p < 0.001) higher than in seronegative animals in all three herds (12–20.1% cf. 3.6–7%). Overall, the probability of a calf being seropositive was 3.5 times higher when the dam was also seropositive than when the dam was seronegative. Subsequent selective breeding employed by one herd reduced the N. caninum seroprevalence from 23% to 5% over a 9-year period. This study shows that N. caninum infection is prevalent in North Queensland dairy cattle, and both post-natal infection and vertical transmission are common.

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