Effect of congenitally acquired Neospora caninum infection on risk of abortion and subsequent abortions in dairy cattle

Mark C. Thurmond From the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology (Thurmond, Hietala) and the California Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System (Hietala), School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8734.

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Sharon K. Hietala From the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology (Thurmond, Hietala) and the California Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System (Hietala), School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8734.

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SUMMARY

Objectives

To estimate the extent to which abortion risk in dairy cattle during subsequent pregnancies was associated with congenitally-acquired Neospora caninum infection and previous abortions.

Animals

468 Holstein cattle.

Procedure

Newborn heifer calves were tested for evidence of congenital infection attributable to N caninum and examined repeatedly until the completion of their second lactation for serologic status and evidence of abortion.

Results

Compared with noninfected cows, congenitally infected cows had a 7.4-fold higher risk of abortion during their initial pregnancy and a 1.7-fold higher risk of aborting the first pregnancy during their first lactation. During the first pregnancy of their second lactation, congenitally infected cows that had aborted previously had a 5.6-fold higher risk of abortion, compared with cows that had not previously aborted and that were seronegative. The fetal risk period for N caninum-associated death began sooner and extended later during the initial pregnancy, compared with subsequent pregnancies.

Conclusion

Congenitally acquired N caninum infection can cause a substantial number of abortions during the initial pregnancy of heifers, with abortion risk attributable to N caninum decreasing in subsequent pregnancies, possibly because of selective culling. Subsequent abortions can be expected in congenitally infected cows that have aborted previously. (Am J Vet Res 1997;58:1381–1385)

SUMMARY

Objectives

To estimate the extent to which abortion risk in dairy cattle during subsequent pregnancies was associated with congenitally-acquired Neospora caninum infection and previous abortions.

Animals

468 Holstein cattle.

Procedure

Newborn heifer calves were tested for evidence of congenital infection attributable to N caninum and examined repeatedly until the completion of their second lactation for serologic status and evidence of abortion.

Results

Compared with noninfected cows, congenitally infected cows had a 7.4-fold higher risk of abortion during their initial pregnancy and a 1.7-fold higher risk of aborting the first pregnancy during their first lactation. During the first pregnancy of their second lactation, congenitally infected cows that had aborted previously had a 5.6-fold higher risk of abortion, compared with cows that had not previously aborted and that were seronegative. The fetal risk period for N caninum-associated death began sooner and extended later during the initial pregnancy, compared with subsequent pregnancies.

Conclusion

Congenitally acquired N caninum infection can cause a substantial number of abortions during the initial pregnancy of heifers, with abortion risk attributable to N caninum decreasing in subsequent pregnancies, possibly because of selective culling. Subsequent abortions can be expected in congenitally infected cows that have aborted previously. (Am J Vet Res 1997;58:1381–1385)

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