The incidence of bovine babesiosis, caused by Babesia divergens (Apicomplexa: Piroplasmida) has decreased markedly since the 1930 s, but may re-emerge as a consequence of climate change and changes in legislation and pasturing practices. This is a potentially serious disease, with both economical and animal welfare consequences. Therefore, there is a need to survey the distribution of B. divergens.
We tested sera from 306 healthy pastured cows from 24 farms along the southern Norwegian coast by using an indirect immunofluorescence IgG antibody test (IFAT). Fractions of seropositive cows were compared by calculating 95% CI.
The results of this test showed that 27% of the sera were positive for B. divergens antibodies. The fraction of antibody-positive sera that we detected showed a two-humped distribution, with a high fraction of positives being found in municipalities in the western and eastern parts of the study area, while the municipalities between these areas had few or no positive serum samples.
Neither the farmers' observations nor the Norwegian Dairy Herd Recording System give an adequate picture of the distribution of bovine babesiosis. Serological testing of cows by using IFAT is a convenient way of screening for the presence of B. divergens in an area.