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What You Should Know about Trichomoniasis in Cattle

Publication Number: M1647
View as PDF: M1647.pdf

Trichomoniasis

Bovine trichomoniasis can be found worldwide affecting both beef and dairy cattle. The disease can be very costly for cattle operations that use natural service.

Trichomoniasis (often called “trich”) is a true venereal disease of cattle caused by a protozoan organism called Tritrichomonas foetus. It is spread through sexual contact. Infected cow herds experience pregnancy losses, which frequently occur early in gestation, resulting in repeat breeders and inconsistent calving distributions.

Trichomoniasis causes no clinical signs in the bull and does not affect sexual behavior or semen quality. Therefore, control of the disease focuses on bull management.

The reservoir for this organism is the persistently infected bull, and bulls more than 4 years old are more likely to be chronic carriers of the disease. There are no approved treatments for infected bulls or cows. Once a bull is infected, it is infected for life.

If undetected, this lifelong infection in older bulls can result in disease transmission from one breeding season to another.

Prevention and Control

To control trichomoniasis in an infected herd, you must identify positive animals, remove positive bulls, and quarantine and enforce sexual rest of suspected or exposed females. When one animal is infected, the rest of the herd is probably also infected.

These management procedures can also help control reproductive disease:

  • maintain a defined breeding season,
  • perform pregnancy exams,
  • use artificial insemination,
  • cull open cows,
  • purchase only younger cows and bulls,
  • perform a breeding soundness exam (BSE) on all bulls before the breeding season,
  • do not share or lease bulls, and
  • maintain good fences.

Keep good records monitoring your herd’s reproductive efficiency so that potential problems in breeding and fertility can be quickly identified and investigated.

Several conditions can cause these signs in cattle, and it is important to work with your herd veterinarian to maintain your herd’s reproductive health.

Testing

Given the devastating effects that trichomoniasis can have on your breeding herd, it is important to identify and prevent infected bulls from entering your herd.

There are two major methods of testing bulls for trichomoniasis: polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and culture. Both tests require a swab or scraping of the bull’s prepuce.

Testing for trichomoniasis can easily be incorporated into yearly BSEs or pre-purchase exams. A certified, accredited veterinarian should collect all samples to be submitted to an official, approved laboratory for trichomoniasis testing.

The process for veterinarians to become certified can be found on the Mississippi Board of Animal Health website.

The Mississippi Veterinary Research and Diagnostic Laboratory offers both methods of testing. Contact your herd veterinarian for testing options and pricing.

Trichomoniasis Regulations in Mississippi

The Mississippi Bovine Trichomoniasis Control regulations require bulls older than 18 months to be tested before entering the state as well as upon any change of ownership within the state. This includes any bulls brought into the state or moved within the state for sale or auction. Any trichomoniasis-positive bulls found within the state are required to go to slaughter.

There are currently no testing requirements for female cattle.

Most states now include trichomoniasis testing requirements in their animal import regulations. Producers should contact the state of destination prior to any interstate animal movements.

The complete ruling, including requirements for testing and disposition of positive animals, may be found in the Rules of the Mississippi Board of Animal Health, Subpart 2, Chapter 19.

Mississippi Board of Animal Health website

State Import Requirements for Trichomoniasis

Bulls > 18 months

with the following exceptions:

1. Exhibition and rodeo bulls that are temporarily in the state

2. Bulls consigned to go directly to slaughter

Negative trichomoniasis test on a single PCR test or three consecutive cultures within 60 days<

Official identification

Virgin bulls < 18 months

Accompanying statement of virgin status and age

Official identification

Positive bulls

may not be brought into the state except to go directly to slaughter

Movement permit to slaughter

Official identification

Within-State Change of Ownership Testing Requirements for Trichomoniasis

Bulls > 18 months

Negative trichomoniasis test on a single PCR test or three consecutive cultures within 90 days

Official identification

Virgin bulls < 18 months

Accompanying statement of virgin status and age

Official identification

Positive bulls

must go directly to slaughter

Movement permit to slaughter

Official identification

For additional information on trichomoniasis, contact your local veterinarian or Dr. Jim Watson at the Mississippi Board of Animal Health at 888-646-8731.

M1647 (300-06-20)

By Dr. Carla Huston, Beef Extension Veterinarian and Professor, CVM Pathobiology and Population Medicine.

Copyright 2020 by Mississippi State University. All rights reserved. This publication may be copied and distributed without alteration for nonprofit educational purposes provided that credit is given to the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Produced by Agricultural Communications.

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Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director

Department: CVM Pathobiology/Population Med Dep

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Authors

Portrait of Dr. Carla L. Huston
Prof & Dir, Enh Clin Educ
Beef Cattle Health Disaster Management Epidemiology Veterinary Preventive Medicine