Wed, 07 Feb 2018
ANALYSIS - Tritrichomonas foetus (Trich) can cause infertility, stillbirth or abortion. As cattle producers know, if your cattle aren't pregnant, then you aren't making money, according to Dr. Scott Leibsle, Idaho Deputy State Veterinarian. Regular testing has been very successful in helping reduce the incidence of Trich.
Trich is a venereal disease of cattle that is very easily passed from one cow or calf to the next through sexual contact.
Idaho was the first state to implement a Trich testing program because in the late 1980s, the cattle industry came to the Department of Agriculture and recognized that Trich was a huge problem with their herds, primarily in their public grazing herds. This sexually transmitted disease was getting passed around from herd to herd, and producers were struggling with their calving rates. So they asked the Department of Agriculture to implement a regular testing program to help reduce the incidence of Trich, and the program been very successful, according to Dr. Leibsle.
The annual testing requirement for Trich means that once a year, not just once in their lifetime, producers have to test cattle for Trich.
"The reason that's important is because every time you turn cattle out on the pasture, they come in contact with new populations of other cattle and diseases can get transmitted just like any other disease," Dr. Leibsle said. "The problem is if Trich is not identified and an infected animal is not removed from being exposed to other cattle, it can be passed from one to the next and then your calving rates go down very quickly. So, all cattle producers recognize that if your cattle aren't able to conceive then you're just not going to be making money."
Trich is passed so easily through sexual contact from one cow to the next. So if you're not testing for it regularly, it can just pass through an entire herd, which can be devastating to calving rates, he said.
"The testing process we use here in Idaho is very effective; we use a test called PCR and what it does is identifies the DNA of the organism in Trich," he said. "It's very specific, it's very accurate, and we can turn the test around very quickly. It's important for veterinarians to know that when they send the samples in, they get a test result very quickly and can pass that information along to their producers."
Originally, the testing requirement was through culture which took days if not weeks to try and grow the organism and identify it under the microscope. However, PCR has accelerated that process greatly, and it has significantly increased accuracy, as well as our ability to turn tests around quickly, concluded Dr. Leibsle.