Categories: Animal healthPublished On: 2nd July 2021

Spotlight on Trichomoniasis

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By: Dr Paris Ryf, Ruminants Marketing Manager at Zoetis

This is a brief overview on what Trichomoniasis (often referred to as “trich”) is, how to avoid it and what to do if your herd contracts it.

“For a cow-calf operation, there’s not another disease that comes close to the economic impact of trich with all the lost pregnancies and culls,” says Mr Johnny Hesterman, a Simbra farmer from Northern Kwa- Zulu Natal. Just 3 years ago Mr Hesterman had a trich infection in his herd.

Although he maintains a closed herd, cattle from surrounding areas managed to break through surrounding fencing resulting in a trich outbreak in his herd.

“I noticed there was a steep decline in calving percentage- I normally have an 80% calving percentage but with the trich challenge it dropped to 60%. I called my veterinarian in who tested the herd and confirmed that trich was the culprit. I had to slaughter my older bulls as they would remain infected. Since then I have been vaccinating my cows with TrichGuard® and am in the process of erecting new game fencing to keep neighbouring cattle out. My calving percentage has since returned to 80%. A single calf pays for about 200 doses of TrichGuard® so for me the return on investment is very clear. I never want a trich outbreak again”.

Trichomoniasis is a microscopic parasite (Tritrichomonas fetus) spread during breeding from infected bull to cow and infected cow to bull. Cows can lose their pregnancies resulting in a prolonged breeding season, a low calf crop and lower weaning weights.

The parasite is carried in the crypts of the penis and preputial sheath in infected bulls. Affected bulls do not show clinical signs. These crypts become deeper with age, meaning bulls 4 years or older can become permanently infected and carry the disease into the next breeding season. Younger bulls with shallower crypts may be able to “clean up” (rid themselves of the infection).

Affected cows carry the organism in the vagina and uterus. A higher number of open cows at pregnancy diagnosis may be the only sign as affected cows may become pregnant, undergo early embryonic death and cycle as usual. Some cows affected by the trichomoniasis cycle regularly and clear the infection after roughly 3 cycles. These cows only develop a short-lived immunity and can become re-infected and abort during the first third to mid‐gestation should they become pregnant. All cows that contract trichomoniasis are at risk of developing pyometra (a pus‐filled uterus). This can be diagnosed at pregnancy check.

Diagnosis of trichomoniasis is made from samples obtained from the bull by a veterinarian. Three successive cultures should be taken one to two weeks apart. A single positive bull would indicate that the herd is infected.

Some of the contributing factors to a trichomoniasis outbreak include commingling with neighbouring untested bulls, commingling of cows with an unknown history, and retaining open cows for the next breeding season.

Management Tips:

  • Test and slaughter of infected older bulls is recommended.
  • Test all incoming bulls, heifers and cows
  • Do not loan bulls
  • Replace old bulls with young bulls
  • Cull open cows
  • Have a short and defined breeding season so that reproductive problems can be noticed early
  • Commingle only cows with known history
  • Maintain good fencing
  • Vaccinate cows with TrichGuard® to aid in prevention

Note that controlling trichomoniasis in your herd needs clear and strict biosecurity and herd management protocols, you cannot rely on vaccination alone. Speak to your local veterinarian, Zoetis representative or Zoetis technical manager about TrichGuard® and other management options.

FOR ANIMAL USE ONLY
TrichGuard®: Reg. No.: G1749 (Act 36/1947). Killed, concentrated cultures of Tritrichomonas foetus. For full prescribing information refer to the package insert approved by the medicines regulatory authority.
Zoetis South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Co. Reg. No.: 2012/001825/07, 6th Floor, North Wing, 90 Rivonia Road, Sandton, 2196. Tel.:+27 11 245 3300 or 0860 ZOETIS (0860 963847). www.zoetis.co.za.
FOR ANIMALS. FOR HEALTH. FOR YOU.  
References:
Kasimanickam, R. Ten Facts about Trichomoniasis in Cattle. Washington State University Veterinary Medicine Extension[internet].2010 January [cited 2021 July 1]; Available from:
https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/2147/2015/03/TrichSpotlight20112.pdf
Irsik, M. Trichomoniasis. University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. 2010 July[cited 2021 July 1];Available from:
https://extension.vetmed.ufl.edu/files/2012/02/Trichomoniasis-april-issue-FCA-2011.pdf
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