PCR-based identification of Neospora caninum in the umbilical cord of a newborn calf in Brazil

ABSTRACT: This study was conducted at a beef cattle breeding farm in the far southern region of Brazil. The birth of a calf with unilateral corneal opacity was immediately reported to the Laboratory of Parasitology, in the Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; blood was collected from the cow and calf before colostrum intake. The umbilical cords from this calf and from six other healthy animals were collected. Serological examination, utilizing an indirect fluorescent antibody test, was done using a cut-off point of 1:100. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was also performed using the umbilical cord samples. Serological tests showed that the calf was positive for Neospora caninum at birth, with a titer of 1:1600; a titer of 1:3200 was reported in the dam. PCR, using umbilical cord tissue from the affected animal, was positive for the presence of this parasite, and the molecular identity of the amplified product was confirmed by sequencing. Therefore, the detection of N. caninum DNA in the umbilical cord represents a novel alternative test for the diagnosis of this parasitic infection in newborn calves that are clinically suspected to have neosporosis.