So what's the problem?
Ticks are small bloodsucking arthropods that mainly feed on domestic and wild animals and sometimes humans. They’ve caused great economic losses to the livestock market globally by transferring disease from animal to animal. There are many diseases spread by ticks, including: east-coast fever, tick-bite fever and Nairobi sheep disease. Global losses are estimated to be between US$13.9 and US$18.7 billion annually with over 800 million cattle constantly exposed to the threat of ticks.
What is this project doing?
CABI is looking for an organism that is harmful to ticks and could be used to control them, hopefully becoming a core component of a new integrated tick-control strategy. To do this, CABI has teamed up with the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology to help in the search. An ideal natural enemy would be a highly infectious fungus which would debilitate the tick population. A fungus which inhibits the tick’s ability to feed or breed (but not initially kill the tick) could also be a successful control agent, and will be built into the testing regime. There are various species of tick that impact upon the livestock industry in Africa. For this project, two species that are highly damaging in central and east Africa have been selected: Amblyomma variegatum and Rhipicephalus appendiculatus.
Surveys are being carried out on grass pastures and on the actual livestock where ticks are collected and then taken back to the lab where they can be kept in a stable environment. Regular checks are made for dead ticks. For each dead tick all pathogens are collected and separated – these could be fungi, bacteria, protozoa or nematodes. Each pathogen is then identified and one sample kept and put into long-term storage whilst another will be used in further testing.
Results so far
A survey for ticks was carried out in Juja in central Kenya – an area commonly used for grazing livestock. Ticks were collected from both cattle and grass pastures and soil samples were also taken at random. 295 ticks were collected, most were from the Rhipicephalus genus. These ticks were kept in room conditions and any fungi that may have caused the death of the tick were collected. Samples of fungi were also extracted from the soil samples.
Address: ICRAF Complex, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, P.O. Box 633-00621, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 7224450 /62
Tel: +254 (0)20 7224462
Infectious and Parasitic Diseases of Livestock (2 volume set)
by P Lefèvre, J Blancou, R Chermette, G Uilenberg
21 September 2010
Hardback / 9782743008727 / £241.00 / $460.00 / €315.00
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