Neospora caninum is a coccidian parasite related to Toxoplasma gondii. The dog is the definitive host, with sexual stages in the gut resulting in oocysts shed in faeces.

Cattle (an intermediate host species) are infected by ingesting feed contaminated by sporulated N caninum oocysts shed by dogs or by infected cattle tissues (eg infected foetal membranes), or are infected transplacentally.

The asexual proliferative stages of N caninum (including tissue cysts) cause:

  • Abortion in cattle (world-wide, including coastal NSW) and congenital neonatal neurological disease in cattle (rarely)
  • Neospora abortion is reported in deer (rarely)
  • Rarely, neurological disease in the dog

Diagnosis and tests available


Diagnosis is based on history, clinical signs, serology and histopathology. A histopathologic diagnosis is based on the detection of tissue cysts with associated necrosis and inflammation.

Tests available


Sample(s) required

Days of the week test is conducted

Turnaround time1

Histopathology examination

Fixed tissue

Monday –Friday

Up to 5 days

Neospora antibody ELISA4

Clotted blood (red top tube) or lithium heparin blood (green top tube)

Batch tested weekly

2-3 days2

Necropsy examination

Aborted foetus

Monday – Saturday3

Same day

1 Turnaround times are provided as a guide only. For specific information about your submission please contact Customer Service.
2 Confirmation testing of positives may affect turnaround time
3 Prior approval of delivery and testing on Saturday is required. Please contact Customer Service on 1800 675 623 to seek approval.
4 This test is not NATA accredited.

Specimen requirements

Aborted foetus

  • Whole aborted foetus with placental membranes
    • Submit chilled

Blood (with anti-coagulant)

  • 10ml of blood collected in  a lithium heparin treated evacuated tube
    • Submit chilled

Blood (without anti-coagulant)

  • 10ml of blood collected into a plain red top tube
    • Submit chilled

Fixed tissue

  • Brain, lung, heart, skeletal muscle, liver, lymphoid tissues and adrenal gland
    • Submit fixed in neutral buffered formalin at a 10:1 ratio of formalin: tissue


In view of the widespread prevalence of subclinical neosporosis in cattle in coastal NSW areas, seropositivity in an aborted cow does not confirm Neospora abortion.