Bovine besnoitiosis leads to significant economic losses by a decline in milk production, sterility, transient or permanent infertility of bulls, skin lesions and increase of mortality in affected cattle population. It is a disease with a high prevalence in tropical and subtropical regions and re-emerging in Europe.
Species of besnoitia which have been recognised as pathogenic in cattle include:
- B. besnoiti (Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America)
- B. bennetti (Africa, north and south America, southern France)
- B. jellisoni
- B. wallacei
- B. tarandi
- B. darlingi
- B. sauriana
- B. caprae (Australia)
The organisms multiply in macrophages as well as in endothelial and other cells, producing characteristic large, thick-walled cysts filled with bradyzoites that develop into the invading tachyzoites.
Voles are thought to be the definitive host of this parasite and transmission to cattle is thought to be accidental.
In cattle which are valuable, therapeutic effects of tetracyclines have been noted.
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