Herd-level risk factors for Neospora caninum seroprevalence in dairy farms in southern Brazil

Luis G. Corbellini, David R. Smith, Caroline A. Pescador, Milene Schmitz, Andre Correa, David J. Steffen, David Driemeier

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59 Scopus citations


A cross-sectional study was used to test the relationship between herd seroprevalence to Neospora caninum and various potential herd-level risk factors in 60 dairy farms located in two distinct regions in southern Brazil. Thirty farms were randomly selected from within each region. A questionnaire was designed to summarize each farm's production system as it might relate to N. caninum transmission. The questionnaire contained 105 closed questions relating to general characteristics of the farms, farm facilities, management, source of food and water, herd health, environment and biosecurity, which included questions relevant to N. caninum transmission, including presence and number of dogs and other animals, purchase of animals and contact with man. Serum samples were collected from 40% of animals in each farm and N. caninum antibodies were detected by immunofluorescent antibody test (IFAT). The association between potential risk factors and the probability of an animal being seropositive was modeled using a generalized estimation equations (GEE) logistic regression model. The model accounted for multilevel correlation of data from multiple animals within herds. The mean (±S.D.) number of animals in the 60 herds was 64.5 (±45.6), ranging from 20 to 280 females. Blood samples were collected from 1549 animals. The size of the farms varied from 4 to 100 ha (mean 30.1 ± 25.9 ha). At least one dog was found in 57 of the 60 dairy farms (95%). The mean number of dogs was 3.1 (±1.9), ranging from 0 to 10. All females were raised on pasture. For all cattle sampled, N. caninum seroprevalence was 17.8%. Overall, 93.3% of herds (56/60) had at least one seropositive animal identified. Four variables were significantly associated with N. caninum sero-response in the 57 dairy farms, which were included in the final multivariable model: the number of dogs on the farm, farm area (hectares), feeding pooled sources of colostrum and region. The odds of a cow being seropositive increased 1.13 times for each additional dog present on the farm (P = 0.021). Cattle from farms that fed calves colostrum pooled from multiple cows had 1.79 times greater odds for being seropositive for N. caninum (P < 0.003). The probability of being seropositive was inverse to the area of the farms, such that cattle had 0.92 times the odds to be seropositive (P = 0.014) for each additional 10 ha of farmland. Finally, cattle from farms in region one had 0.71 times the odds to be seropositive than cattle from region two (P = 0.035). Results of this study suggest that several risk factors may explain why dairy cattle in Brazil may become exposed to N. caninum. However, further investigation of these factors is necessary because the purpose of this study was to refine and generate hypotheses on N. caninum transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-141
Number of pages12
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - May 17 2006


  • Bovine abortion
  • Dairy cattle
  • Logistic regression
  • Neospora caninum
  • Reproductive diseases
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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