Diagnosis and official regulatory testing for bovine trichomoniasis in the
state of Washington
Major highlights of bovine trichomoniasis
Bovine trichomoniasis is a
disease that causes reduced
reproductive performance in
- Bovine trichomoniasis is a
disease regulated by the
Washington State Department of
- Control of trichomoniasis in
cattle herds requires culling of
infected carrier bulls.
The required sample for
"official" detection of
trichomoniasis in bulls is a
preputial scraping taken by an
registered by the WSDA as
proficient in the procedure.
- Detection of infected
carrier bulls requires
- The official laboratory test
in the state of Washington for
bovine trichomoniasis is the
individual or pooled polymerase
chain reaction (PCR) test
- WSU-WADDL is an official
testing laboratory for bovine
trichomoniasis in the state of
- Samples for bovine
trichomoniasis testing should be
submitted to the laboratory on a
Trichomoniasis PCR Test Form"
and submitted in in
pooled PCR (up
to 5 bulls from
the same owner)
now allowed by
#8, #10 and #12
- Two methods
allowed by WSDA
and available at
- New easier
test media tube
(see # 8 below)
Click on a question or
Bovine venereal trichomoniasis is caused by Tritrichomonas foetus, a
flagellate protozoan parasite.
T. foetus lives in the reproductive tracts of bulls and cows and has
worldwide distribution.The widespread use of artificial insemination in many
areas of the world has helped to reduce the prevalence. Trichomoniasis is still
of importance in herds where artificial insemination is not used.
Venereal transmission can occur from an infected bull to an uninfected cow (or
heifer), or from an infected cow (or heifer) to an uninfected bull. Bulls are
the main reservoir of the trichomoniasis, and bulls greater than 4 years of age
tend to be long-term carriers. For this reason samples from bulls are preferred
for diagnosing and controlling the disease in cattle herds.
Chronically infected bulls show no lesions or clinical disease. Infected bulls
appear normal, breed normally, and can infect an entire herd through natural
service. In the newly infected cow or heifer (in those never before infected
T. foetus), there is inflammation of the reproductive
tract (vagina, cervix, uterus), which may result in a discharge from the vagina
or, in severe cases, pyometra (uterus distended with pus and the cow’s inability
to cycle). If the cow is pregnant, the infection results in placentitis
(inflammation of the birth membranes) and causes early abortion (1-16 weeks of
A tentative diagnosis of trichomoniasis as a cause of reproductive failure in a
herd is based upon clinical history (presence of clinical signs in individual
cows in a bull bred herd), signs of early abortion, repeated returns to service,
high percentage of unbred cows, and irregular estrus cycles. Confirmation of
trichomoniasis requires demonstration of
T. foetus parasites by laboratory testing.
Control of trichomoniasis in cattle herds requires identification of bulls
infected with T. foetus by laboratory methods and removal of
the infected bulls from the herd. Also, testing all purchased bulls for T.
foetus before entering the herd will prevent introduction of trichomoniasis
into your herd. Bulls become chronically infected with T. foetus, are
long-term carriers and can serve as the source of trichomoniasis in cattle herds
from one breeding season to the next. Cows with trichomoniasis spontaneously
clear infection in 90-95 days and are not a source of T. foetus
infection from one breeding season to the next. There is no effective method for
treating T. foetus-infected bulls. Infected bulls are
generally culled from the herd and sold for slaughter.
In bulls, preputial smegma (preputial scraping) is the optimal sample. In cows
and heifers, T. foetus parasites are most reliably identified
from placental fluids, placenta, stomach contents of aborted fetuses, uterine
washings, pyometra discharge, or vaginal mucus. Herd-based diagnosis is most
reliably made from preputial scrapings of bulls or vaginal scrapings/fluids from
Appropriate sample collection for accurate diagnosis of trichomoniasis
In infected bulls, T. foetus
live deep in the preputial folds (microscopic crevices inside the prepuce)
requiring a preputial scraping below the mucosal surface of the prepuce in order
to reach the embedded parasites. The scraping is generally accomplished with an
artificial insemination pipette (dry pipette technique) or special soft metal
brush. For official regulatory testing, sampling must be done by a veterinarian
certified and registered with the Washington State Department of Agriculture
(WSDA) for trichomoniaisis sample collection. An online course on Trichomoniasis
Testing and a video of the collection technique in bulls is available at the web
link below provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and
WSU Veterinary Medicine Extension.
Samples submitted to WSU-WADDL should be collected into
test media. Trichomonas test media is
manufactured by Biomed Diagnostics, Inc. and is available directly from the
company (Phone: 800-964-6466). We prefer use of the TF transit tube (catalogue #
60-1010 for a 10-pack or catalogue # 60-1050 for a 50-pack).
transit tubes are also available from MWI Veterinary Supply (Phone:
800-824-3703), Fisher Scientific (Phone: 800-766-7000), and other vendors. "In
Pouch" TF media is still acceptable, but costs about $1.00 more for each
(catalogue # 11-1001 (20 pouches) or 11-1002 (100 pouches).
For a valid Official test follow one of the following submission
Ship the samples by overnight courier so that they
arrive at the lab within 48 hours of collection. For this method ship samples at
room temperature (no ice pack)
Incubate the samples at 37 degrees centigrade for 24
hours, then freeze the sample. For this method, ship with an ice pack at your
convenience using an overnight courier.
Samples should be submitted on the WADDL
Trichomoniasis PCR Accession Form
. Please fill out the form completely and
check either individual PCR or Pooled PCR as appropriate (see criteria for
Pooled PCR testing below in #12).
Yes. The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and State
Veterinarian require that veterinarians receive special training, certification
and registration for collection of preputial samples from bulls. Only
veterinarians registered with the WSDA can collect samples for official
trichomoniasis testing in bulls. The WSDA Animal Services Division provides
educational seminars to veterinarians on proper trichomoniasis sampling and
handling techniques. An online course on Trichomoniasis Testing and a video of
the collection technique in bulls is available at the web link below provided by
the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and WSU Veterinary
will recognize other states' official trichomoniasis collection protocols when
veterinarians outside Washington State collect the samples.
Official regulatory tests for trichomoniasis vary state to state but generally
are restricted to culture or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods. PCR is
accepted as the official test for trichomoniasis by the Washington State
Department of Agriculture (WSDA). WSU-WADDL is the only Washington laboratory
recognized by the State Veterinarian for official trichomoniasis testing and
conducts testing using individual quantitative PCR (qPCR) or pooled quantitative
For pooled PCR testing submit individual preputial scraping samples in TF media
(as described in #8 above) and samples will be pooled in the laboratory (DO NOT
POOL SAMPLES IN THE FIELD PRIOR TO SUBMISSION). Any positive pooled PCR samples
require followup testing of individual samples within the positive pool in order
to identify the positive individual bull(s).
The current cost of Trichomonas testing by PCR is listed in the current WADDL
website fee schedule under the “Molecular
Because bulls with trichomoniasis do not show clinical signs of infection and
because trichomoniasis can cause economic losses to Washington cattle herds
through significant reproductive failure, the WSDA and State Veterinarian
require all breeding bulls entering the state of Washington be shown free of
trichomoniasis. The bovine trichomoniasis requirements are published in
Washington Administrative Code (WAC) document #16-54-086, “Bovine Trichomoniasis
Requirements”. The latest version of the requirement should be consulted and is
available on the WSDA website at
Some brief highlights of the WAC Bovine Trichomoniasis Requirements are listed
- Breeding bulls may be imported into state of Washington if:
If the bulls originate from a herd where one or more bulls or cows have been
found infected with bovine trichomoniasis
within the past twelve months or have unknown status, the bulls
must have two negative qPCR tests one week apart. The samples for each test must
be collected within thirty days before cattle are imported into Washington
state, and an import permit must be obtained from the director and include a
certifying statement that the bulls originated from an infected herd.
Virgin bulls are exempt from bovine trichomoniasis test
requirements. If sold, virgin bulls must be officially identified and
accompanied by a certificate signed by the owner or the owner's designee that
they have had no breeding contact with female cattle.
Registered veterinarians shall only utilize official laboratories recognized
by the state veterinarian for testing of trichomoniasis samples.
Polymerase chain reaction is accepted as an official test
when completed by a qualified laboratory approved by the
director and when shipped and received by laboratory by the two
methods described in #8 above.
- Originate from a herd wherein all bulls have tested negative for
trichomoniasis since removal from female cattle; or
- Tested negative to bovine trichomoniasis quantitative PCR (qPCR) test within
30 days of import and had no contact with female cattle; or
- Tested negative to bovine trichomoniasis culture test, if from state that
recognizes a culture test as an official test
WSDA has had Trichomoniasis regulations since 2008. Testing protocol
advancements since the implementation of the regulations has allowed WSDA to
revisit the issue of pooling with low risk situations or for non-regulatory
purposes. This action still complies with the Trichomoniasis import regulations
for import in WAC 16.54.086.
The criteria where pooling of up to 5 bulls will be allowed are:
- Bulls that are over a year old and therefore cannot be
designated as virgin bulls, but have had no breeding contact
- Bulls in this class that originate from a herd with no
history of Trichomoniasis infection and are offered at a
production sale in a herd with no history of infection. This is
only allowed for a single herd, not assembled cattle. (Herd will
be defined as cattle together for a minimum of 120 days)
- Bulls in this class that may be segregated at a bull test
station that are brought to the facility under a year of age and
now are to be used for natural service and are over a year old
but have had no breeding contact with females.
- Bulls sampled for a herd diagnostic test without regulatory
- As part of a disease investigation, pooling may be allowed
if the herd does not have a history of infection or in the
judgment of the herd veterinarian Trichomoniasis infection is
Pooling will NOT be allowed for:
- Multiple owners for a single pool. This effectively
eliminates pooling as an option at livestock markets.
- Infected herds or herds with a history of infection within
the past 12 months.
- SOME STATES WILL NOT ACCEPT POOLED SAMPLES FOR
IMPORTATION TESTING INTO THEIR STATE. CHECK THE STATE OF
DESTINATION REQUIREMENTS BEFORE REQUESTING POOLED SAMPLES.