A cohort study was undertaken on a dairy experiencing endemic Neospora caninum abortions, to characterize dam serologic variations during pregnancy, and to determine if dam N. caninum antibody levels during gestation predicted congenital infection or abortion. Blood samples were collected monthly during pregnancies of 254 cows and precolostrally from 87 of their calves. Antibody levels, as measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, indicated 60.6% of cows were seropositive at some time during pregnancy and 87.4% of seropositive cows were seropositive throughout pregnancy. The rate of seroconversion was 8.5/100 cows/yr. The risk of abortion for seropositive cows at the time of pregnancy diagnosis and during gestation was twice that for seronegative cows (P = 0.025, P = 0.006). Calves born to seropositive cows were more likely to be seropositive at birth if the dam had high antibody levels at 240 days of gestation (P = 0.04) and an increase in antibody levels between 90 and 240 days (P = 0.08) than if the respective values of the dam were low or decreasing. Seropositive cows with high antibody levels at 180 and 210 days of gestation were less likely to abort than cows with low antibody levels at those times (P = 0.05, P = 0.03). Results support a causal effect between exposure to N. caninum and abortion, indicate that acquisition of infection during pregnancy is not necessary for congenital infection or abortion to occur, and suggest that maternal immune response influences congenital infection and abortion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics