Theileriosis (cattle)


Bovine anaemia caused by the Theileria orientalis group has emerged as a disease in NSW in recent years. Presence of non-pathogenic type Theileria orientalis buffeli in red blood cells in Australian cattle, has not previously been associated with clinical signs. Pathogenic sub-types Theileria orientalis Ikeda and to a lesser degree Theileria orientalis Chitose have now been identified in Australia in association with the development of anaemia in naïve cattle. Pathogenic types Theileria parva (East Coast Fever) and Theileria annulata (tropical theileriosis) cause more serious disease and are exotic to Australia.

Bush ticks are suspected to spread Theileria in NSW but further research is required as other means of transmission are suspected.

Clinical signs include pale mucous membranes, jaundice, tachypnoea, tachycardia, weakness/lethargy/exercise intolerance/inappetance, fever, abortion/stillbirth, reduced milk production. Haemoglobinuria is not a feature.

Diagnosis and tests available


Diagnosis is suggested by history of movement of cattle between endemic and non-endemic areas and clinical signs and is confirmed by blood smear examination for regenerative anaemia and Theileria parasites in red blood cells.

Tests available


Sample(s) required

Days of the week test is conducted

Turnaround time1

Smear examination

EDTA blood (purple top tube)

Monday – Friday

1-2 days

Theileria qPCR2

Clotted blood (red top tube), lithium heparin blood (green top tube) or EDTA blood (purple top tube)

On demand

Up to 5 days

1 Turnaround times are provided as a guide only. For specific information about your submission please contact Customer Service.
2 The test is not NATA accredited.

Specimen requirements

Blood (with anti-coagulant)

  • 10 ml of blood collected into a lithium heparin tube
    • Submit chilled
  • 10 ml of blood collected into an EDTA tube
    • Submit chilled

Blood (without anti-coagulant)

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