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Repeated testing by use of culture and PCR assay to detect Tritrichomonas foetus carrier bulls in an infected Nebraska herd

Jeff D. Ondrak DVM, MS1, James E. Keen DVM, PhD2, Gary P. Rupp DVM, MS3, James A. Kennedy DVM, MS4, D. Scott McVey DVM, PhD5, and William D. Baker DVM6
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  • 1 Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center, School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska, Clay Center, NE 68933.
  • | 2 Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center, School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska, Clay Center, NE 68933.
  • | 3 Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center, School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska, Clay Center, NE 68933.
  • | 4 Rocky Ford Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Colorado State University, Rocky Ford, CO 81067.
  • | 5 Veterinary Diagnostic Center, School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588.
  • | 6 Hyannis Veterinary Service, 702 E Alden Rd, Hyannis, NE 69350.

Abstract

Objective—To compare methods for identification of bulls that were carriers for Tritrichomonas foetus during an outbreak on a large beef ranch and determine whether the percentage of nonpregnant cows was associated with the percentage of bulls infected with T foetus.

Design—Epidemiological study.

Animals—121 Angus and Hereford bulls (1.5 to 6 years old) and 2,960 Angus-cross cows (2.5 to 14 years old) managed as 5 herds on a Nebraska beef ranch.

Procedures—3 sequential preputial scrapings collected from the bulls at 12- to 27-day intervals were cultured, and cultures were examined for live T foetus daily for 5 days. On day 5, aliquots of the culture fluid were tested by means of T foetus-specific gel and real-time PCR assays. Cows were tested for pregnancy by means of rectal palpation.

Results—For 361 preputial scrapings obtained from 121 bulls, results of culture and gel PCR assay were in close agreement. The real-time PCR assay had similar sensitivity to culture and the gel PCR assay but generated more false-positive results. Twenty-four of the 121 (19.8%) bulls were identified as infected with T foetus. For the 5 ranch herds, there was a positive linear correlation between percentage of infected bulls (range, 0% to 40%) and percentage of nonpregnant cows (range, 8.3% to 19.2%).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that a combination of culture and the gel PCR assay performed on 3 sequential preputial scrapings was the best method for identifying bulls that were carriers for T foetus during this herd outbreak.

Abstract

Objective—To compare methods for identification of bulls that were carriers for Tritrichomonas foetus during an outbreak on a large beef ranch and determine whether the percentage of nonpregnant cows was associated with the percentage of bulls infected with T foetus.

Design—Epidemiological study.

Animals—121 Angus and Hereford bulls (1.5 to 6 years old) and 2,960 Angus-cross cows (2.5 to 14 years old) managed as 5 herds on a Nebraska beef ranch.

Procedures—3 sequential preputial scrapings collected from the bulls at 12- to 27-day intervals were cultured, and cultures were examined for live T foetus daily for 5 days. On day 5, aliquots of the culture fluid were tested by means of T foetus-specific gel and real-time PCR assays. Cows were tested for pregnancy by means of rectal palpation.

Results—For 361 preputial scrapings obtained from 121 bulls, results of culture and gel PCR assay were in close agreement. The real-time PCR assay had similar sensitivity to culture and the gel PCR assay but generated more false-positive results. Twenty-four of the 121 (19.8%) bulls were identified as infected with T foetus. For the 5 ranch herds, there was a positive linear correlation between percentage of infected bulls (range, 0% to 40%) and percentage of nonpregnant cows (range, 8.3% to 19.2%).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that a combination of culture and the gel PCR assay performed on 3 sequential preputial scrapings was the best method for identifying bulls that were carriers for T foetus during this herd outbreak.

Contributor Notes

Presented in part at the 12th Conference of the International Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics, Durban, South Africa, August 2009.

Address correspondence to Dr. Ondrak (jondrak@gpvec.unl.edu).