Protozoa are one-celled animals that are not visible to the naked eye, but are easily seen under the microscope. They are usually carried in water. A fresh stool specimen is required to identify the adult parasite or its cysts (called oocysts).
Neosporosis in dogs:
Dogs and herbivores are hosts to Neosporum caninum, with cattle as the intermediate host. Dogs initially acquire the infection by eating infected meat, but once infected, a bitch can pass this on through the placenta to her unborn puppies. The risk to humans is minimal.
Dogs will show nerve and muscle problems, possibly even leading to paralysis. Pneumonia, heart problems, and skin problems may also be seen. Blood tests and muscle biopsies are the main means of diagnosis.
Treatment: Clindamycin, pyrimethamine, and sulfadiazine have been used in treatment.
Prevention: Dogs should not be fed raw or uncooked meat, especially beef. Dogs should also be prevented from defecating in cattle yards and pastures to help prevent exposure. Some veterinarians will attempt treating subsequent litters of affected bitches in utero, as it is expected all future puppies will be infected. This must begin after at least two weeks into the pregnancy, to avoid damage to the developing embryos.