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Tritrichomonas foetus


Mike Taylor

Andrew Forbes

Synonym(s): Protozoa




  • Phylum: parabasalia.
  • Class: trichomonadea.
  • Family: trichomonadidae.


  • The generic name is derived from the family Trichomonadidae, which are flagellate protozoa. The prefix (Tri) indicates the number of anterior flagella (3).

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Clinical Effects



  • There are no free living stages.


  • The life cycle is simple with the trichomonads dividing longitudinally by binary fission.


  • Bulls, once infected, are permanent carriers. Bull breeding assessments
  • The organisms inhabit the preputial cavity and transmission to the cow occurs during coitus.
  • From the vagina, the trichomonads reach the uterus via the cervix to produce a low-grade endometritis Abortion & Stillbirths.

Pathological effects

  • In the bull, a preputial discharge associated with small nodules on the preputial and penile membranes may develop shortly after infection.
  • Chronically infected bulls show no gross lesions Bull fertility examination.
  • Infection in cows causes cervicitis and endometritis leading to infertility, abortion or pyometra.
  • There is mild inflammation in the endometrium and cervix producing a copious mucopurulent discharge.
  • Abortions can occur at any time but mainly in the first half of pregnancy due to placentitis.
  • Retention of the fetal membranes can lead to a purulent endometritis, persistent utenine discharge and anestrus.
  • There are no specific fetal lesions, but large numbers of trichomonads may be found in the fetal fluids and stomach.
  • The placenta may be covered by white, or yellowish, flocculent exudates, with the cotyledons thickened and hemorrhagic.  
  • Pyometra, when it develops, may be copious with brownish, sticky floccules containing many trichomonads.

Other Host Effects

  • Infected cows recover and in most cases appear to develop a sterile immunity.


Control via animal

  • The most effective control is to prevent the introduction of the organism into a herd.
  • Breeding bulls should be screened for the disease. The normal requirement is three negative culture tests.
  • Since the disease is self-limiting in the cow only symptomatic treatment and sexual rest for 3 months is normally necessary.
  • In the bull, slaughter is the best policy.

Control via chemotherapies

  • There is no confirmed or approved treatment.

Control via environment

  • In countries where the disease is still endemic, ensure all fencing is stock proof to prevent potentially infected stray animals entering.


  • A dead combination vaccine is available in the USA (TrichGuard) (in combination with Campylobacter fetus and five serovars of Leptospira) for use in cows.

Other countermeasures

The disease is notifiable or reportable in most countries.
  • Artificial insemination from non-infected bulls is the only entirely satisfactory method of control.
  •  If a return to natural service is contemplated, recovered cows should be disposed of since some may be carriers.


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Further Reading


Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Bryan L A, Campbell J R & Gajadher A A (1999) Effects of temperature on the survival of Tritrichomonas foetus in transport, Diamond’s and InPouch™ TF media. Vet Rec 144, 227–232 PubMed.
  • Schonmann M J, Bondurant R H, Gardner L A, Van Hoosear K, Baltzer W & Kachulis C (1994) Comparison of sampling and culture methods for the diagnosis of Tritrichomonas foetus infection in bulls. Vet Rec 134, 620–622 PubMed.
  • Taylor M A, Marshall R N & Stack M (1994) Morphological differentiation of Tritrichomonas foetus from other protozoa of the bovine reproductive tract. British Veterinary Journal 150, 73-80 PubMed.
  • BonDurrant R H (1985) Diagnosis, treatment and control of bovine trichomoniasis. Compendium for Continuing Education 7.

Other sources of information

  • Taylor M A, Coop R L & Wall R L (2016) Chapter 8 - Parasites of Cattle: Tritrichomonas foetus. In: Veterinary Parasitology. 4th Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, West Sussex, UK. pp 411-412.
  • Taylor M A, Gajadhar A & Parker S (2007) Trichomonosis. OIE Manual of Standards for Diagnostic Tests. 6th Edition. Chapter 2.4.17. Office Internationale des epizootes, Paris, pp 805-812.
  • Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) (1986) Manual of Veterinary Parasitological Techniques. Reference Book 418. HMSO Bookshops. London. pp 93-98.

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