Edgmond Parish Council 

Dogs and Neospora in cattle

We would like to make you aware of a parasite called Neospora. This is a microscopic parasite that infects cattle in two ways: either by ingesting the eggs from the environment, or as an unborn calf when Neospora crosses the placenta from an infected cow.

Infection can arrive on a farm by several routes: Via purchase of an infected cow, via recently infected dogs, or in feed or water contaminated by dog faeces. Dogs are a vital part of the Neospora story. They become infected by eating Neospora infected placentae, foetuses, calves or wildlife. The parasite multiplies in their intestine and eggs are passed in faeces for two to three weeks. After this the dog is immune and no longer a risk. The eggs are thought to survive in the environment for many months.

After being eaten by a cow the eggs multiply and then become dormant. This has no ill effects on the cow which continues to appear healthy. The danger comes during pregnancy when the parasite re-activates and travels to the placenta and unborn calf. What happens next can include:

• Abortion

• The birth of a healthy, but infected, calf which may go on to abort during its first pregnancy

• The birth of a calf showing signs of nervous disease, however, this is uncommon.

Infected cows remain infected for life and maintain Neospora in the herd by giving birth to infected heifer replacements. There is no evidence of direct cow-to-cow spread. This is a serious problem and can mean that otherwise healthy animals have to be destroyed causing great distress to the farmer.

More information can be found here.

As a courtesy to other walkers and to help reduce the risk of spreading disease we urge all dog owners who walk their animals in the countryside to keep to the footpaths and to clean up after their pets. 

Edgmond Parish Council © 2016