Parasite Neospora attacks Daisy

Daisy is a gorgeous golden Labrador who shuffled into the clinic one morning back in May. She had been absolutely fine the night before but the next day she was having a lot of trouble walking or even standing. She seemed incredibly weak. It was quite obvious that something was very wrong.

After an extensive physical examination, neurological examination and blood tests, our veterinary team could tell that the problem lay in the muscles themselves. Daisy had generalised inflammation of the muscles (or myositis). This stopped them from working like they should which lead to her being so weak. As Daisy was getting weaker by the hour, we needed to find out exactly what had caused the muscles to become so inflamed and weak. We could almost see her muscles shrinking before our eyes! After a couple of days, Daisy could not even stand and required us to turn her over every few hours to prevent bed sores. We started Daisy on high doses of steroids to reduce the inflammation, and antibiotics to combat any infection.
After several different tests, including blood tests for specific antibodies and muscle biopsies, we found the culprit - a small organism called Neospora. This is a single-celled parasite which can be picked up from eating raw meat but can also be passed from the mother to the puppies in the uterus. It can live in the dog undetected for years, and if the immune system is suppressed for any reason, can make itself known by causing widespread muscle damage. Thankfully this parasite is rare but unfortunately for Daisy it was causing severe problems.

Daisy was started on a long course of a medication to kill the organism, and began her long road to recovery. She stayed in hospital with us for over a month before she was able to stand and walk for herself, needing intensive physiotherapy every day. Even once she was able to walk she needed to stay with us for several more weeks to allow her muscles to rebuild enough strength to go home.

Daisy is now off her medication, and is back to being a normal dog! She will always have the Neospora parasite in her system but without any periods of immune suppression she should remain symptom-free. Thankfully we do not see many cases of Neospora at Adelaide Animal Hospital, however Daisy was certainly the most severe!

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