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Involvement of Neospora in abortion in sheep

L. Howe, M. G. Collett, R. S. Pattison, J. Marshall, D. M. West, W. E. Pomroy

INFECTION of sheep with the intracellular parasite Neospora caninum has been reported in many countries and been shown to cause deaths of neonatal lambs and congenital infections but, unlike in cattle, is not generally considered to be a significant cause of ovine abortion. This study investigated the potential role of N caninum in reproductive failures in sheep in New Zealand.

Serum or blood samples were collected from ewes on 35 farms under investigation because of abortions of an unexplained cause, especially among primiparous ewes. The samples came from ewes that were aborting or had aborted and those that were pregnant. Samples of fetal or placental tissue were also submitted from 31 of these farms. For comparison, serum and blood samples from 10 control farms, which had high fertility and no significant abortion history, were investigated. The blood samples were tested by the indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) and ELISA for antibodies to N caninum. Blood, placental and fetal tissues were tested by PCR for N caninum DNA. In addition, samples of placenta and, where suitable for examination, fetal brain and …

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