Endogenous transplacental transmission of neospora hughesi in naturally infected horses

Nicola Pusterla, Patricia A Conrad, A. E. Packham, S. M. Mapes, Carrie J Finno, Ian Gardner, B. C. Barr, G. L. Ferraro, William D Wilson

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27 Scopus citations


Over a 2-yr study period, we investigated possible endogenous transplacental transmission of Neospora hughesi in 74 mare and foal pairs following the diagnosis of neuronal neosporosis in a weanling foal. Presuckle and postsuckle serum of each foal, serum and colostrum of each periparturient mare, and serum of each mare and foal pair, collected at 3-mo intervals thereafter, were tested for N. hughesi using an indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT). Furthermore, whole blood and colostrum samples and placentae were tested for the presence of N. hughesi by real-time PCR. The mares' seroprevalence at foaling based on IFAT (titer ≥ 160) was 52 and 6% in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Colostral antibodies against N. hughesi were detected in 96 and 11% of the mares in the 2-yr study. With the exception of 3 foals, all remaining foals were born seronegative to N. hughesi. Passive transfer of colostral antibodies to N. hughesi was documented in 15 foals. Three foals born from 2 different mares had presuckle antibodies at a titer ranging from 2,560 to 20,480. All 3 foals were born healthy. Two foals were born to the same dam that also gave birth to the weanling diagnosed with neuronal neosporosis in 2005. The third foal was born to a second mare with no previous foaling history at the farm. Seroconversion was documented in 10 foals and 9 mares over the 2-yr study. All blood and colostrum samples tested PCR negative for N. hughesi. Only 1 placenta collected in 2007 from the mare with the 2 congenitally infected foals tested PCR positive for N. hughesi. In conclusion, N. hughesi persisted in this population via endogenous transplacental infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-285
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Parasitology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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