Neosporosis & Sarcocystosis information
There is growing evidence of the links between two specific diseases in livestock and
the presence on grazing land of faeces from infected dogs. The two diseases are:
- Neosporosis – which can cause abortions in cattle
- Sarcocystosis – which can cause neurological disease and death in sheep
Neosporosis can result in miscarriage in cattle and Sarcocystosis can be responsible
for neurological disease and death in sheep. Dogs are important vectors in the
lifecycle of both these dangerous parasites and owners picking up after their dog can
help to reduce the risk of disease spreading.
Parasites found in some dog faeces can result in the abortions of cattle and death in
sheep and with several reports over recent months, it is important to be more
The message is to remember to pick up any faeces from dogs when they are uslng agricultural land.
Neosporosis can cause abortions in cattle and is thought to be responsible for the
highest percentage of all cattle abortions reported in the UK. Neospora eggs are
produced by infected dogs and excreted in their faeces. Cattle will then become
infected if they eat food i.e. grass, or drink water contaminated with the eggs.
The prevalence of the disease in herds, and its potential impact on farm economics –
due to infected cows being more likely to abort, premature culling and reduced milk
yields – make this an important disease to try to control.
Sarcocystosis is also caused by parasites which can use dogs as intermediate hosts
and similarly the eggs are produced and excreted in faeces. Sheep wlll become
infected if they eat food or drink contaminated by the eggs.
The presence of sarcocysts, parasites, on a carcass following slaughter can result in
the carcass being condemned. The disease can be passed on from ewe to lamb
ln terms of both these diseases, faeces from infected dogs can contaminate pasture
and animal feed, water or bedding.
There is currently no licensed vaccine or drugs available for these diseases.