Ivan Leyva-Baca, DVM, PhD
Animal Health Product Applications at Thermo Fisher Scientific
What is Tritrichomonas foetus (Trich)?
Tritrichomonas foetus, also known as Trich, is a protozoan that is pear-shaped and single-celled. It has three flagella on the anterior side and has a single flagellum on the posterior. This can make disease diagnosis using microscopy difficult because there are similar protozoa that are closely related but not pathogenic such as Tritrichomonas foetus.
The genome of Tritrichomonas is large - it has five haploid chromosomes that have been sequenced. It includes many repetitive sequences, making it a complicated genome.
What is the typical prevalence of Tritrichomonas foetus in the US?
Tritrichomonas foetus is not a new disease. It's been affecting beef cattle herds since the late 1800s, when it was first identified in France. Trich was well established in the US in the 1950s and ranges from very low prevalence up to 6% infected animals. However, it is difficult to identify the true prevalence of Trich because many studies have only been done on bulls, and the technology used was not using the highest level of sensitivity and specificity. For quite some time, cows have been excluded from these type of prevalence studies, however, Trich is also a problem in beef cow herds.
In 2014, the state of Texas was testing about 35,000 bulls, and they found a 2.5% prevalence of Trich positive bulls, which can significantly impact a herd’s calving rate and operation’s financial viability.