A disease spread by foxes and dogs that wreaks devastation
Neospora is not something that every farmer will come across. However, it is the causal agent in up to 13pc of diagnosed abortions as shown in recent studies.
It is caused by neospora caninum, an organism of the protozoan family of diseases. It is spread in the faeces of dogs and foxes, and the cows ingest it from pasture or from contaminated feedstuffs.
There is no vaccine and no medicines to treat it, so prevention is the all-important key. If an outbreak occurs, the consequences are enormous with anything from 30-70pc of a group of cows aborting.
Once on the farm, the disease will spread from dam to offspring during pregnancy (if the pregnancy survives), and from cow to dog and back to cow again. Therefore, these points become the focus of limiting the disease and eventually eradicating neospora off the farm. Any neighbouring farmer or member of a discussion group who has an outbreak will be only too willing to list out the devastation.
nNeospora enters the farm via contaminated pasture or feedstuffs.
nUse of feeder wagons on modern Irish farms means one small faecal contamination by a dog or fox will be spread evenly across the entire dairy herd.
nAs survivors of this disease remain contaminated for life, they must go on the long-term culling list if possible.