Tritrichomonas foetus



Bovine tritrichomonosis (trichomonad disease) is a disease transmitted by unicellular parasites(Tritrichomonas foetus) during mating.


Worldwide; in Central and Western Europe the trichomonad disease has been largely eradicated

Host animals


Infection route

Tritrichomonosis of cattle is transmitted during mating. Bulls can be lifelong carriers and excretors of the parasite

Incubation time

Early abortions usually occur 2-4 months after the mating act


In cows, premature abortions, frequent re-calving, prolonged calving intervals, sterility. Bulls often show no clinical symptoms


Insemination animals are monitored in order to prevent a reintroduction of the pathogen into domestic herds. Chemotherapeutic agents are not authorised. In females, only symptomatic treatment is indicated when clinical signs occur.


The most effective prevention in cattle is artificial insemination. Although transmission with frozen semen is also possible with artificial insemination, it is very rare because of the regular examination and isolated keeping of the insemination animals.

Situation in Austria

Tritrichomonosis in cattle has been practically eradicated in Austria. The disease is notifiable according to the Breeding Diseases Act.

Technical information

Tritrichomonas foetus (bovine strain) is morphologically identical to Tritrichomonas foetus from cats (diarrhoeal pathogen), but differs slightly genetically. There is no definite evidence that cats are a source of infection for cattle under natural conditions. Genetically also closely related is Tritrichomonas suis. Differentiation of the pathogen from contaminating trichomonads from the intestinal tract or the environment can be performed by PCR.

The main site of infection in bulls is the preputial cavity. In cows, the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes are colonised. The pathogens can persist there for up to 7 months. Clinically, cows are noticeable due to premature abortions, frequent cowshedding, prolonged calving intervals or sterility. Bulls often show no clinical symptoms.


The pathogen is detected microscopically and culturally from rinse, semen and swab samples or abortus material. Tritrichomonas foetus is pear- to spindle-shaped, has three anterior flagella and a long trailing flagellum.


Institut für veterinärmedizinische Untersuchungen Mödling

Last updated: 10.10.2023

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