A Swiss case-control study to assess Neospora caninum-associated bovine abortions by PCR, histopathology and serology.

Sager, Heinz; Fischer, I; Furrer, K; Strasser, M; Waldvogel, A; Boerlin, P; Audigé, L; Gottstein, Bruno (2001). A Swiss case-control study to assess Neospora caninum-associated bovine abortions by PCR, histopathology and serology. Veterinary parasitology, 102(1-2), pp. 1-15. Elsevier

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Neospora caninum is one of the most frequent infectious organisms causing abortion in cattle worldwide. The present case-control study was designed to assess the importance of bovine neosporosis for causing abortion in Swiss cattle and to identify selected risk factors. Infection was primarily diagnosed by a N. caninum-specific PCR and serology, complemented with histopathology and immunohistochemistry. A total of 113 case and 113 corresponding control-farms were studied for 1.5 year. During this time period, 242 abortions were reported and referred for bacteriological, virological, parasitological and pathohistological examinations. N. caninum was detected by PCR in the brains of 21% of all aborted fetuses. Microscopic lesions indicative for cerebral protozoa infection were detected in 84% of PCR-positive fetal brains. Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) was demonstrated in 7% of the cases, and bacterial infections were detected in 4% of the abortions. One or more N. caninum-abortions occurred in 20% of the herds (41 case-farms and 3 control-farms). Serological examination of aborting mother cows revealed a significantly higher percentage of N. caninum-seropositive animals (44%) in comparison to the prevalence in a randomly selected population (12%). However, in eight cases (4% of all investigated abortions) seronegative cows aborted N. caninum PCR-positive fetuses, and in 50 cases the fetus remained negative although the respective mother cow was N. caninum-seropositive. Repetitive serological investigations (at a 3-12 months interval) of 3551 cows from case- and control-farms showed a decrease of the overall N. caninum-seroprevalence from 17 to 12%. Ninety out of 3008 seronegative animals were converted to N. caninum-seropositivity. Conversely, 212 out of 543 initially seropositive animals became seronegative for their second serum sample. The obtained data underlined the importance of N. caninum as a causative agent for abortion in Swiss cattle. Furthermore, PCR was confirmed to be a valuable diagnostic tool for the primary diagnosis of N. caninum in aborted fetuses. On the other hand, the value of serology appears to be hampered by the temporal instability of N. caninum antibody concentrations in adult cattle, including especially seronegativity of some individual animals. Thus, seronegativity in a mother cow or heifer does not exclude N. caninum-associated abortions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Parasitology

UniBE Contributor:

Sager, Heinz and Gottstein, Bruno


600 Technology > 630 Agriculture
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Bruno Gottstein

Date Deposited:

19 Jul 2018 16:06

Last Modified:

19 Jul 2018 16:06

PubMed ID:




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