You are on page 1of 3

Downloaded from http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/ on February 9, 2015 - Published by group.bmj.

com

SHORT COMMUNICATIONS
Risk factors for abortion in
cattle herds in Algeria
F. Ghalmi, N. Dramchini, B. China
ABORTION in cattle can result from infectious causes (bacteria, viruses,
parasites) or non-infectious causes, such as nutritional, chemical, physical,
genetic, hormonal, immunological or iatrogenic factors. The economic
losses resulting from abortion are directly related to the prevalence of the
problem in the herd.
In Algeria, the cattle population is approximately 16 million animals, of which 5355 per cent are dairy cows; the cattle industry is economically important, in particular in the production of milk, which,
together with cereals, constitutes a major part of Algerian food production (MADR 2005).
Little or no information was available on the situation regarding
abortion in cattle in Algeria. This short communication describes an
epidemiological survey performed with the aim of identifying the risk
factors associated with abortion in cattle herds in Algeria.
The study area was the Algiers Wilaya (county), an area of 809 km2.
Eighty cattle farms were randomly selected from a total of approximately
1000; 59 of the farmers agreed to take part in the study. The selected
farms were distributed in 15 of the 57 communes in the county. The
distribution of the selected farms was not random, since the eastern
and south-eastern regions were investigated to a greater extent than
the other regions; this was in part due to the fact that cattle farms were
mainly present in these regions.
An epidemiological questionnaire was developed, including questions to collect administrative data (name of the breeder, their contact
details, and the name and contact details of the farms veterinarian),
details of the herd (species present, number of animals, breed, age), the
origin of the cattle (born on-farm or imported), the sanitary status of
the herd (with regard to control programmes for diseases such as brucellosis or tuberculosis, the two diseases that are subject to six-monthly
epidemiological surveys in Albania), any frequent diseases, the use of
treatments and vaccination, the neonatal mortality, the type of insemination used (bull present on the farm or artificial insemination), and
the incidence of abortions in cows in the past five years. The data were
analysed by chi-squared and logistic regression tests using Stata software
(Stata corp).
Twenty-two (373 per cent) of the 59 farms had experienced abortions in the past five years. These farms were designated as case farms,
and the remaining 37 farms were designated as control farms. There was
no significant difference between the number of cattle in the case (mean

Veterinary Record (2009) 165, 475-476

[sd] 3166 [3688], range two to 156, median 20) and control (mean [sd]
2751 [1674], range three to 73, median 23) herds. These data indicated
that the average size of cattle herds in Algiers county was small in comparison to typical herd sizes in other world regions such as Europe or the
USA. The cows on the case and control farms were fed similar diets,
consisting of hay, corn silage and cereals.
The correlation between epidemiological factors and the occurrence
of abortion was estimated. The type of insemination (natural or artificial), the presence of sheep, the breed of cattle (dairy breed or not) and
the origin (born on the farm or imported) were not significantly related
to the occurrence of abortion on the farms (Table 1). However, the
presence of dogs on the farm was highly significantly associated with the
occurrence of abortion in cattle (P<001) (Table 1).
These results were suggestive of a possible role for Neospora caninum, a parasite that can cause abortion in cattle (Dubey 2005) and
the major abortion-causing agent that is transmitted from dogs to cattle. Dogs are the definitive hosts of N caninum. Dogs shed oocysts
that can be ingested by cattle, and then develop into tachyzoites (the
dividing form) and migrate to the organs, where they can form cysts
of bradyzoites. Several studies have investigated the role of dogs in
either the seroprevalence of N caninum in cattle or in abortion in
cows. Corbellini and others (2006) indicated that the presence of dogs
increased the seropositivity to N caninum in cows. The risk of abortion is two to three times higher in seropositive than seronegative
dairy cows (Haddad and others 2005). Dog density (both in terms
of the number of dogs on a farm and the number of dogs in the area
where the farm was located) was also considered as a risk factor for N
caninum infection in cows by Schares and others (2004). In a study by
Haddad and others (2005), the presence and number of farm dogs on
the dairy farm premises at the time of the study visit, as well as during the previous three years, were the only two factors significantly
associated with a herd being a case herd (with confirmed N caninum
abortion) and a herd having a high (10 per cent) seroprevalence. In
another study (Hobson and others 2005), logistic regression indicated
that N caninum abortion in a herd was positively associated with the
herd seroprevalence (odds ratio [OR] 12), the number of dogs on a
farm (OR 28), the frequency with which dogs were observed defecating in the cows mangers (OR 28), the number of horses on the farm
(OR 31), the incidence of retained fetal membranes (OR 12) and
the incidence of cows returning to oestrus after pregnancy had been
confirmed (OR 12). However, no significant relationships between
N caninum infection in a herd and the presence of dogs on the farm
were found in Thailand by Kyaw and others (2004). Epidemiological
data collected with a questionnaire in a study in the USA (Rodriguez
and others 2002) suggested that the presence of farm dogs did not
increase the risk of exposure of cows to N caninum.
Further studies are required to determine whether the presence of
dogs is a genuine risk factor for N caninum infection and for subsequent
abortion in cows. For instance, the serological status of dogs on farms
should be studied. Nevertheless, this is the first epidemiological study
to indicate a role of dogs and, by inference, of N caninum in abortions
in cows in the Algiers area.

F. Ghalmi, DVM,
N. Dramchini, DVM
National Veterinary School,
BP 161 Hassen Badi El-Harrach,
Algiers, Algeria
B. China, PhD,
Scientific Institute of Public Health,
Epidemiology and Toxicology
Department, rue Juliette Wytsman
14, 1050 Brussels, Belgium

Risk factor

Correspondence to Dr China,
e-mail: b.china@iph.fgov.be

CI Confidence interval, OR Odds ratio

TABLE 1: Effect of several risk factors on the occurrence of abortion on cattle farms in Algeria

Artificial insemination
Presence of sheep
Presence of dogs
Dairy breed
Cows born on the farm

Case farms (n=22)


Yes
No
12
3
10
12
9

10
9
12
10
13

Control farms (n=37)


Yes
No
23
1
2
24
11

14
36
35
13
26

OR

95% CI

073
568
1458
065
164

025-213
055-5845
279-7622
022-191
054-494

P
057
029
0001
058
060

October 17, 2009 | the VETERINARY RECORD

Downloaded from http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/ on February 9, 2015 - Published by group.bmj.com

SHORT COMMUNICATIONS

Acknowledgements
The authors thank E. Kissling for critical reading of this manuscript. FG
and ND thank the National Veterinary School of Algiers for supporting
this work.

References
CORBELLINI, L. G., SMITH, D. R., PESCADOR, C. A., SCHIMTZ, M., CORREA, A.,
STEFFEN, D. J. & DRIEMEIER, C. A. (2006) Herd-level risk factors for Neospora caninum
seroprevalence in dairy farms in southern Brazil. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 73, 130-141
DUBEY, J. P. (2005) Neosporosis in cattle. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Food Animal
Practice 21, 473-483
HADDAD, J. P. A., DOHOO, I. R. & VANLEEUW, J. A. (2005) A review of Neospora
caninum in dairy and beef cattle a Canadian perspective. Canadian Journal of Veterinary
Research 46, 230-243

the VETERINARY RECORD | October 17, 2009

HOBSON, J. C., DUFFIELD, T. F., KELTON, D., LISSEMORE, K., HIETELA, S. K., LESLIE,
K. E., MCEWEN, B. & PEREGRINE, A. S. (2005) Risk factors associated with Neospora
caninum abortion in Ontario Holstein dairy herds. Veterinary Parasitology 127, 177-188
KYAW, T., VIRAKUL, P., MUANGYAI, M. & SUWIMONTEERABUTR, J. (2004)
Neospora caninum seroprevalence in dairy cattle in central Thailand. Veterinary Parasitology
121, 255-263
MADR (2005) Rapport sur la situation du secteur agricole. Ministre de lAgriculture et du
Dveloppement Rural. Algiers, Algeria
RODRIGUEZ, I., CHOROMANSKI, L., RODGERS, S. J. & WEINSTOCK, D. (2002)
Survey of Neospora caninum antibodies in dairy and beef cattle from five regions of the United
States. Veterinary Therapeutics 3, 396-401
SCHARES, G., BARWALD, A., STAUBACH, C., ZILLER, M., KLOSS, D., SCHRODER,
R., LABOHM, R., DRAGER, K., FASEN, W., HESS, R. G. & CONRATHS, F. J. (2004)
Potential risk factors for bovine Neospora caninum infection in Germany are not under the
control of the farms. Parasitology 129, 301-309

Downloaded from http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/ on February 9, 2015 - Published by group.bmj.com

Risk factors for abortion in cattle herds in


Algeria
F. Ghalmi, N. Dramchini and B. China
Veterinary Record 2009 165: 475-476

doi: 10.1136/vr.165.16.475
Updated information and services can be found at:
http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/165/16/475

These include:

References
Email alerting
service

This article cites 7 articles, 0 of which you can access for free at:
http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/165/16/475#BIBL
Receive free email alerts when new articles cite this article. Sign up in the
box at the top right corner of the online article.

Notes

To request permissions go to:


http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions
To order reprints go to:
http://journals.bmj.com/cgi/reprintform
To subscribe to BMJ go to:
http://group.bmj.com/subscribe/