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Datasheet

bovine theilerioses

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 07 May 2014
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Animal Disease
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • bovine theilerioses
  • Overview
  • The genus Theileria

    The theilerioses are tick-borne protozoan diseases of domestic animals caused by species of Theileria. This genus of intracellular parasites is closely related to the genus Babesia. Both Babesia and Theileria are in the ord...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
The life cycle of a typical Theileria species, as illustrated by those of T. annulata and T. parva, comprises a cycle of clonal replication of schizonts in mononuclear cells in lymphoid and reticuloendothelial tissues followed by the appearance of 'piroplasms' - small (<3u) and plemorphic organisms - in erythrocytes.  T.parva  proliferates as schizonts; its piroplasms do not multiply.  Schizonts are the major proliferating stage of T. annulata..  In infections of T. annulata, at least, elevated parasitaemias arise when erythrocytes are invaded by massive numbers of merozoites produced by large populations of schizonts. Members of the  T. orientalis/T. buffeli  group proliferates mainly as piroplasms. In every species, piroplasms include parasites undergoing gametogony and producing the gametocytes which are infective for ticks. Differentiation into gametes and sexual recombination occurs in the tick gut. Kinetes developing from zygotes in the gut cells appear to migrate directly to the
TitleLife cycle of a typical Theileria species
CaptionThe life cycle of a typical Theileria species, as illustrated by those of T. annulata and T. parva, comprises a cycle of clonal replication of schizonts in mononuclear cells in lymphoid and reticuloendothelial tissues followed by the appearance of 'piroplasms' - small (<3u) and plemorphic organisms - in erythrocytes. T.parva proliferates as schizonts; its piroplasms do not multiply. Schizonts are the major proliferating stage of T. annulata.. In infections of T. annulata, at least, elevated parasitaemias arise when erythrocytes are invaded by massive numbers of merozoites produced by large populations of schizonts. Members of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli group proliferates mainly as piroplasms. In every species, piroplasms include parasites undergoing gametogony and producing the gametocytes which are infective for ticks. Differentiation into gametes and sexual recombination occurs in the tick gut. Kinetes developing from zygotes in the gut cells appear to migrate directly to the
CopyrightElsevier Science
The life cycle of a typical Theileria species, as illustrated by those of T. annulata and T. parva, comprises a cycle of clonal replication of schizonts in mononuclear cells in lymphoid and reticuloendothelial tissues followed by the appearance of 'piroplasms' - small (<3u) and plemorphic organisms - in erythrocytes.  T.parva  proliferates as schizonts; its piroplasms do not multiply.  Schizonts are the major proliferating stage of T. annulata..  In infections of T. annulata, at least, elevated parasitaemias arise when erythrocytes are invaded by massive numbers of merozoites produced by large populations of schizonts. Members of the  T. orientalis/T. buffeli  group proliferates mainly as piroplasms. In every species, piroplasms include parasites undergoing gametogony and producing the gametocytes which are infective for ticks. Differentiation into gametes and sexual recombination occurs in the tick gut. Kinetes developing from zygotes in the gut cells appear to migrate directly to the
Life cycle of a typical Theileria speciesThe life cycle of a typical Theileria species, as illustrated by those of T. annulata and T. parva, comprises a cycle of clonal replication of schizonts in mononuclear cells in lymphoid and reticuloendothelial tissues followed by the appearance of 'piroplasms' - small (<3u) and plemorphic organisms - in erythrocytes. T.parva proliferates as schizonts; its piroplasms do not multiply. Schizonts are the major proliferating stage of T. annulata.. In infections of T. annulata, at least, elevated parasitaemias arise when erythrocytes are invaded by massive numbers of merozoites produced by large populations of schizonts. Members of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli group proliferates mainly as piroplasms. In every species, piroplasms include parasites undergoing gametogony and producing the gametocytes which are infective for ticks. Differentiation into gametes and sexual recombination occurs in the tick gut. Kinetes developing from zygotes in the gut cells appear to migrate directly to theElsevier Science
Bos taurus. Indigenous Turkish breed
TitleHosts
CaptionBos taurus. Indigenous Turkish breed
CopyrightThe University of Edinburgh
Bos taurus. Indigenous Turkish breed
HostsBos taurus. Indigenous Turkish breedThe University of Edinburgh
Bos taurus x  Bos indicus (Sahiwal) calf.
TitleHosts
CaptionBos taurus x Bos indicus (Sahiwal) calf.
CopyrightThe University of Edinburgh
Bos taurus x  Bos indicus (Sahiwal) calf.
HostsBos taurus x Bos indicus (Sahiwal) calf.The University of Edinburgh
The role of three-host ticks in the transmission of Theileria spp. and Babesia spp.
TitleThree-host tick life history
CaptionThe role of three-host ticks in the transmission of Theileria spp. and Babesia spp.
CopyrightModified with permission of Elsevier Science
The role of three-host ticks in the transmission of Theileria spp. and Babesia spp.
Three-host tick life historyThe role of three-host ticks in the transmission of Theileria spp. and Babesia spp.Modified with permission of Elsevier Science
Swollen lymph node draining site of inoculation of sporozoites of T. parva.
TitleDisease course
CaptionSwollen lymph node draining site of inoculation of sporozoites of T. parva.
CopyrightThe University of Edinburgh
Swollen lymph node draining site of inoculation of sporozoites of T. parva.
Disease courseSwollen lymph node draining site of inoculation of sporozoites of T. parva.The University of Edinburgh
Asian buffalo (Bulbalis bulbalis).
TitleHosts
CaptionAsian buffalo (Bulbalis bulbalis).
CopyrightThe University of Edinburgh
Asian buffalo (Bulbalis bulbalis).
HostsAsian buffalo (Bulbalis bulbalis).The University of Edinburgh
Diagrammatic representation of the intra-erythrocytic stages of T. annulata, T. parva and members of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli group. Some forms of piroplasms dominate in certain species: round and oval forms in T annulata; rods in T. parva; rods and elongate forms in T. orientalis/T. buffeli. Veils consist of a haemoglobin derived substance; bars are connected with the parasite and the outside of the cell. Both structures are thought to be of parasite origin. T. parva only produces a veil in Syncerus cafffer. Bars occur in all strains of T. orientalis/T. buffeli; veils are absent in N. American strains and not yet recorded for Chinese or African strains.
TitleDiagram
CaptionDiagrammatic representation of the intra-erythrocytic stages of T. annulata, T. parva and members of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli group. Some forms of piroplasms dominate in certain species: round and oval forms in T annulata; rods in T. parva; rods and elongate forms in T. orientalis/T. buffeli. Veils consist of a haemoglobin derived substance; bars are connected with the parasite and the outside of the cell. Both structures are thought to be of parasite origin. T. parva only produces a veil in Syncerus cafffer. Bars occur in all strains of T. orientalis/T. buffeli; veils are absent in N. American strains and not yet recorded for Chinese or African strains.
CopyrightUsed with permission from Academic Press Ltd.
Diagrammatic representation of the intra-erythrocytic stages of T. annulata, T. parva and members of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli group. Some forms of piroplasms dominate in certain species: round and oval forms in T annulata; rods in T. parva; rods and elongate forms in T. orientalis/T. buffeli. Veils consist of a haemoglobin derived substance; bars are connected with the parasite and the outside of the cell. Both structures are thought to be of parasite origin. T. parva only produces a veil in Syncerus cafffer. Bars occur in all strains of T. orientalis/T. buffeli; veils are absent in N. American strains and not yet recorded for Chinese or African strains.
Diagram Diagrammatic representation of the intra-erythrocytic stages of T. annulata, T. parva and members of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli group. Some forms of piroplasms dominate in certain species: round and oval forms in T annulata; rods in T. parva; rods and elongate forms in T. orientalis/T. buffeli. Veils consist of a haemoglobin derived substance; bars are connected with the parasite and the outside of the cell. Both structures are thought to be of parasite origin. T. parva only produces a veil in Syncerus cafffer. Bars occur in all strains of T. orientalis/T. buffeli; veils are absent in N. American strains and not yet recorded for Chinese or African strains.Used with permission from Academic Press Ltd.
African buffalo (Syncerus caffer).
TitleHosts
CaptionAfrican buffalo (Syncerus caffer).
CopyrightThe University of Edinburgh
African buffalo (Syncerus caffer).
HostsAfrican buffalo (Syncerus caffer).The University of Edinburgh
Individual sporozoites visible in a smear of a tick salivary gland.
TitleEpidemiology
CaptionIndividual sporozoites visible in a smear of a tick salivary gland.
CopyrightThe University of Edinburgh
Individual sporozoites visible in a smear of a tick salivary gland.
EpidemiologyIndividual sporozoites visible in a smear of a tick salivary gland.The University of Edinburgh
Taurine cow infected with T. annulata showing debilitated condition.
TitleCow with Theileriosis (Theileria annulata)|Theileria annulata disease course
CaptionTaurine cow infected with T. annulata showing debilitated condition.
CopyrightThe University of Edinburgh
Taurine cow infected with T. annulata showing debilitated condition.
Cow with Theileriosis (Theileria annulata)|Theileria annulata disease courseTaurine cow infected with T. annulata showing debilitated condition.The University of Edinburgh
Smear of biopsy material from lymph node draining the site of inoculation showing many free schizonts as well as schizont-infected cells.
TitleDiagnosis
CaptionSmear of biopsy material from lymph node draining the site of inoculation showing many free schizonts as well as schizont-infected cells.
CopyrightThe University of Edinburgh
Smear of biopsy material from lymph node draining the site of inoculation showing many free schizonts as well as schizont-infected cells.
DiagnosisSmear of biopsy material from lymph node draining the site of inoculation showing many free schizonts as well as schizont-infected cells.The University of Edinburgh
Theileria sporozoites detected in  tick salivary gland cells using the Methyl-Green Pyronin staining technique.
TitleDiagnosis
CaptionTheileria sporozoites detected in tick salivary gland cells using the Methyl-Green Pyronin staining technique.
CopyrightThe University of Edinburgh
Theileria sporozoites detected in  tick salivary gland cells using the Methyl-Green Pyronin staining technique.
DiagnosisTheileria sporozoites detected in tick salivary gland cells using the Methyl-Green Pyronin staining technique.The University of Edinburgh

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • bovine theilerioses

Overview

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The genus Theileria

The theilerioses are tick-borne protozoan diseases of domestic animals caused by species of Theileria. This genus of intracellular parasites is closely related to the genus Babesia. Both Babesia and Theileria are in the order Piroplasmida. Theileria have schizogonic stages in lymphocytes, macrophages or ‘reticuloendothelial’ cells, they are transmitted trans-stadially by ticks, and their primary hosts are mammals, especially ruminants. Babesia have no schizogonic stages and are transmitted by ticks using the trans-ovarian route. Their main hosts are mammals and birds (Irvin, 1987; Norval et al., 1992; Mehlhorn et al., 1994; Kakoma and Mehlhorn, 1994).

The characteristic features of the life cycle of members of the genus Theileria are illustrated in the pictures.

Individual datasheets are available on Theileria annulata infections, Theileria orientalis/Theileria buffeli infections, Theileria parva infections, theileriosis in general and the relevant pathogens.

Importance of the pathogenic bovine theilerioses

This datasheet concentrates on the diseases caused by the most important pathogens of cattle - T. annulata, the T. parva complex and members of the ‘T. orientalis/T.buffeli/T. sergenti’ group. The bovine theilerioses became increasingly important throughout the twentieth century, as attempts to improve cattle productivity, particularly milk production, focused on the importation of exotic high-producing breeds into endemic areas (Brown, 1990b; 1997). Bovine theileriosis (T. annulata and T. parva infections) is now considered one of the four most important tick-borne haemoparasitic diseases of livestock, along with anaplasmosis, babesiosis and cowdriosis (Uilenberg, 1995). There are also increasing records of the ‘T. orientalis/T.buffeli/T. sergenti’ group causing economically significant infections especially in imported, immunocompromized or stressed animals -- see the 'Impact: Economic' section for more information.

T. parva, the cause of East Coast fever (ECF), Corridor disease and January disease, occurs in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. T. annulata, the cause of tropical theileriosis, occurs in North Africa, southern Europe, the Near and Middle East, India, China and Central Asia. The parasite group referred to as the T. sergenti/T. buffeli/T. orientalis complex is now thought to consist of two species – T. sergenti, occurring in the Far East, and T. buffeli/T. orientalis with a global distribution. Three further species are mainly found in Africa: T. taurotragi and T. mutans generally cause no disease or mild disease, and T. velifera is non-pathogenic (OIE, 2013).

Animals Affected

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Animal nameContext
Bos indicus (zebu)Domesticated host
Bos taurus (cattle)Domesticated host
Bubalus bubalis (buffalo)Domesticated host
Bos grunniens (yaks)Domesticated host
Syncerus cafferWild host

Hosts/Species Affected

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T. annulata infects domestic cattle (Bos indicus, Bos taurus), Asian buffaloes (Bubalis bubalis), African buffaloes (Syncerus caffer) (Uilenberg, 1981a), yaks (Bos grunniens) and pianniu (hybrid ox and yak) (Lu and Yin, 1994). T. parva has a complex relationship with domestic cattle and wild buffalos in Africa (Norval et al., 1992; Lawrence et al., 1994a-e). Both domestic (Bubalis bubalis) and wild (Syncerus caffer) buffaloes appear to be less susceptible to Theileria species than cattle. It is not known if this is due to natural selection of populations in endemic areas, or because the buffalo species as a whole have a higher level of innate tolerance than the cattle species (Uilenberg, 1995). The major factors implicated in influencing susceptibility of cattle are, in order of importance, duration of exposure of cattle populations to infection (Uilenberg, 1995, 1999), breed, age and physiological condition, in particular pregnancy (Irvin, 1987).

In endemic areas, autochthonous cattle, including those of taurine origin, appear to tolerate infections with Theileria species much better than imported taurine breeds and their cross-bred offspring, and rarely suffer from the clinical disease (Brown, 1990b, 1997; Uilenberg, 1995, 1999). Such low susceptibility to infection is hereditary and usually called innate (genetic) resistance, although innate tolerance is probably a better term. Innate tolerance is presumably based on long term natural selection in endemic areas and probably depends upon an inherited ability to mount a good immune response against the parasites (Uilenberg, 1995, 1999). For example T. annulata kills a high percentage of animals in susceptible breeds, which have been infected for the first time, but may only be a relatively minor nuisance for local stock in endemic areas of North Africa and Asia (Uilenberg, 1999). In Spain, the parasite appears to be maintained in a state of endemic stability in extensively ranched semi-wild fighting bulls and beef cattle, which appear to tolerate the infection with outbreaks of disease occurring in semi-intensively maintained dairy herds (Viseras and Garcia Fernandez, 1999; Habela et al., 1999).

Specific instances of the differing susceptibilities of indigenous and exotic breeds, and their cross-bred offspring, have been recorded for T. parva (Norval et al., 1992) and for T. annulata, in North Africa (Sergent et al., 1945; Jore d'Arces, 1952; El Fourgi and Sornicle, 1967), Iran (Rafyi et al., 1965), Iraq (Rak, 1978), Georgia (Matikashvili et al., 1978), Kazakhstan (Doshanov, 1976) and India (Gautam, 1976; Gautam and Bhattacharyulu, 1977; Singh, 1990, 1991b). Specific instances for members of the T. orientalis/buffeli group have been recorded in China (Luo and Lu, 1997). Indigenous cattle may be susceptible to tropical theileriosis, as found in Iran (Arshadi et al., 1976). A breakdown in innate tolerance of indigenous cattle breeds and increased susceptibility to disease has been linked to parturition, lactation or stress induced by management or climate changes (Luo and Lu, 1997).

The reasons why Bos indicus may sometimes be better able to tolerate infections with Theileria spp. than Bos taurus are still unclear. Both Bos taurus and Bos indicus from areas where disease is not endemic appear to be equally susceptible to T. parva. A mortality of 97% was recorded in Boran for East African shorthorn Zebu introduced into East Coast fever endemic areas (Brown, 1990a). It is not known whether Bos indicus are more tolerant to low doses of sporozoites and relatively more resistant to ticks than the Bos taurus (Brown, 1990a), in areas where they have appeared to be innately more resistant to T. parva than Bos taurus cattle (Guilbride and Opwata, 1963). Similarly, it is not known if Bos indicus cattle breeds resist T. annulata via an innate (genetic) resistance/tolerance or the early acquisition of protective immunity due to exposure to relatively low dose infection, possibly under cover of maternal immunity (Uilenberg, 1981a). The only experiments done in tick-free cattle indicated that Sahiwal (Bos indicus) calves (pure and cross-bred) were more resistant than taurine calves to T. annulata. Within taurine breeds, Friesians appeared to be particularly susceptible to infection (Preston et al., 1992).

In some regions, young calves appear more tolerant of infection with T. annulata than older animals, possibly due to an age-linked tolerance (Uilenberg, 1999). Infection rates in calves have been reported as being low compared to rates in adult cattle in the Mediterranean region (Adler and Ellenbogen, 1934; Flach and Ouhelli, 1992) and in latent foci in Kazakhstan (Tutushin, 1981). In other areas, such as India and Iraq, clinical disease is common in very young calves (less than 2 months old), including those of indigenous breeds (MacHattie, 1935; Sharma and Gautam, 1971; Gautam, 1976; Sharma et al., 1979; Beniwal et al., 1997). An experimental study failed to detect any effect of age on the response of cattle to T. parva infections (ECF), but field studies in Zimbabwe indicated that calves had a higher innate resistance to T. parva stocks that cause January disease than older cattle (Irvin, 1987). These differences may represent breed resistance, differences in the acquisition of protective immunity due to low-level challenge, effects of maternal colostral antibodies, immunological immaturity on the part of very young calves (Irvin 1987), or differences in tick load between the different age groups of cattle (Flach et al., 1995).

T. annulata, T. parva and members of the T. orientalis/T.buffeli group all cause pregnant females to abort. T. annulata has been recorded as a neonatal infection in Indian cross-bred calves, but did not appear to cause clinical disease (Mishra et al., 1994). These findings have significant consequences for planning control strategies and targeting susceptible populations with appropriate control measures.

Distribution

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The distribution of the different Theileria species, and the diseases they cause, follows the distribution of their particular tick vectors. T. annulata (transmitted by Hyalommid ticks) occurs throughout Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the Near and Middle East, Central Asia, India and China (north of the River Chang Jiang [Yangtze]). Pathogenic and apathogenic strains of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli group (transmitted by the genus Haemaphysalis) exist in Kyrgyzstan, China, Korea, Japan, and the Far Eastern maritime regions of Russia; apathogenic strains exist in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia and North America. T. parva (transmitted mainly by Rhipicephalus appendiculatus) is limited to Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, where its significance has been recorded by Norval et al. (1992). While the distributions of T. annulata and T. parva overlap that of the T. orientalis/buffeli group in many regions, T. annulata and T. parva only overlap in what is now South Sudan (Morzaria et al., 1981).

Individual contries where T. annulata has been recorded include Algeria (Sergent et al., 1945; Jore d'Arces, 1952; Rouina, 1984), Egypt (Mason, 1922), Tunisia (El Fourgi and Sornicle, 1962; Bahri et al., 1995), Israel (Adler, 1952; Pipano, 1989a), Armenia (Marutyan, 1977, 1978). It has also been recorded in endemic areas in the Trans-caucasian regions of the Russian Federation and Central Asian Republics (Oboldoueff and Galouzo, 1928; Markov, 1962; Doszhanov, 1976; Stepanova, 1976; Zablotsky, 1991), Turkey (Onar, 1989; Sayin, 1991; Sayin et al., 1994), Israel (Adler, 1952; Tsur, 1965), Iraq (Yousif, 1969), Iran (Rafyi and Maghami, 1962; Rafyi, 1965; Heshemi-Fersarki, 1998), India (Gautam, 1976; Gill and Bhattacharyulu, 1977; Srivastava and Sharma, 1981; Singh, 1990), Pakistan (Khan and Huq, 1962), China (Lu and Yin, 1994; Luo and Lu, 1997) and more recently Spain (Viseras et al., 1997, Viseras and Garcia-Fernandez, 1999; Habela et al., 1999), Italy (Loria et al., 1999) and Saudi Arabia (El-Metanawy et al., 2000).

The distribution of the diseases caused by the parasites has not been static. Clinical cases of tropical theileriosis in Portugal (Caiero, 1999), Spain (Viseras et al., 1997; Viseras and Garcia Fernandez, 1999; Habela et al., 1999) and Italy (Loria et al. 1999; Maxia et al. 1999) confirm that T. annulata is a real threat to countries on the Northern Mediterranean (Purnell 1978). Members of the ‘T. orientalis/T.buffeli’ group have extended into previously non-endemic areas with imported cattle, and have become widely established due to the existence of suitable tick vectors (Stewart et al., 1996). In many areas, the occurrence of the disease has been significantly modified by the widespread implementation of control measures. For T. parva control has been via anti-tick measures in South Africa (Stolz, 1989; Norval et al., 1991; Lawrence et al., 1994b). For T. annulata control has been by vaccination in China (Lu and Yin, 1994; Guo et al., 1997; Song, 1997), Israel (Pipano, 1989a, b), India (Singh, 1990) and Iran (Hashemi-Feshaki, 1998). Control has also been achieved through combined anti-tick measures and vaccination in regions formerly within the USSR (Zablotsky 1991) and also by changes in agricultural practices and anti-tick measures in Armenia (Marutyan 1977; 1978) and Azerbaijan (Gumbatov and Bagarov 1979).

Details of the distribution of the individual types of theileriosis can be found in the datasheets on Theileria annulata infections, East Coast fever and Theileria orientalis/Theileria buffeli infections.

Updated information on the distribution of theileriosis in general can be found in OIE's WAHID database on disease occurrence: http://www.oie.int/en/links/wahid/.

Pathology

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The dominant histopathological feature of infection with T. annulata and T. parva is the rapid metastasis of clonally replicating schizont-infected mononuclear cells throughout the lymphoid and reticulo-endothelial tissues of the host. In susceptible hosts or following large infective doses, schizont-infected cells can build up substantial populations within infected tissues and cause macroscopical lesions within two weeks (de Kock, 1957; Barnett, 1960; de Martini and Moulton, 1973a, b; Forsyth et al., 1999). As infections progress, the paracortical regions of the lymph nodes draining the site of inoculation of cattle infected with T. annulata are dominated by a histocytic response (Vulchovski and Pavlov, 1970; Forsyth, 1997); follicular hyperplasia is followed by degeneration (Sergent et al., 1924; Baharsefat et al., 1977). The paracortical areas of the lymph nodes draining the site of inoculation of cattle with T. parva show a transient diffuse lymphoid hyperplasia, followed by lymphodepletion (de Kock, 1957; Barnett, 1960). Similar, but later and less intense, responses occur in other lymph nodes and in the spleen (Barnett, 1960; Forsyth, 1997). Metastasis of schizont-infected cells is accompanied by infiltration with uninfected lymphocytes, and leads to the destruction of infected tissues, which becomes haemorrhagic and congested (de Kock, 1957; Barnett, 1960; Prasad et al., 1970; Baharsefat et al., 1977; Gill et al., 1977; Shrivastava and Sharma, 1981; Forsyth et al., 1999). The microscopic lesions of tropical theileriosis have been likened to those of haemorrhagic septicaemias (Sergent et al., 1924, 1945). Brains from the rare cases of cerebral tropical theileriosis with nervous symptoms showed schizont-infected cells and inflammation (Sharma and Gautam, 1973; Srivastava and Sharma, 1976; Khanna et al., 1982).

Diagnosis

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Diagnosis of clinical cases

Diagnosis is based on characteristic clinical, parasitological and post-mortem findings, and the presence of vector ticks.

In endemic areas for infections with T. annulata or members of the T. orientalis/buffeli group, non-specific clinical signs of fever, anaemia, icterus and lymph node enlargement justify a presumptive diagnosis of acute theileriosis (Pipano, 1994; Brown, 1990a; Ding et al., 1997; Luo and Lu, 1997). Tropical theileriosis (T. annulata infection) may be confused with babesiosis, anaplasmosis, trypanosomiosis, or malignant catarrhal fever (Radostits et al., 1999).

The non-specific clinical signs of T. parva infections are fever, lymph node enlargement, dyspnea, emaciation and terminal diarrhoea (Irvin and Mwamachi, 1983; Lawrence et al., 1994b; Brown, 1990a). T. parva infections may be confused with trypanosomiasis, heartwater and malignant catarrhal fever (Radostits et al., 1999).

Diagnosis of theileriosis is confirmed by the detection of intra-erythrocytic stages in thin blood films. Where suspected parasites are known to produce detectable levels of schizont-infected cells, e.g. T. annulata and T. parva, these should be looked for in thin smears prepared from biopsy material of lymph nodes or liver. Giemsa's stain is the most suitable stain for blood films and biopsy smears. In fatal cases, schizonts and merozoites can be detected in impression smears of affected organs, notably liver, spleen and lymph nodes. Theileria species cannot be identified reliably from the structure of their schizonts or piroplasms, however some species may be distinguished by 'bars' and veils' in infected erythrocytes.

Serological assays

The indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) (Darghouth et al., 1996b) and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (Gray et al., 1980; Kachani et al., 1992; Ilhan et al., 1998; Gubbels et al., 2000b; Manuja et al., 2000) are useful for identifying infected animals and herds that contain carriers of infection. The advantages of 'improved' ELISAs using defined reagents, such as recombinant antigens and appropriate monoclonal antibodies, include increased sensitivity and specificity of detection systems (Morzaria et al., 1999).

The IFAT is a prescribed test for international trade, and is the main diagnostic technique described in OIE's Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals (OIE, 2013; http://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Health_standards/tahm/2.04.16_THEILIERIOSIS.pdf).

Molecular tools for detection of parasites in vertebrate hosts and ticks

Sporozoites may be detected in the salivary glands of infected ticks by staining with methyl-green pyronin. Molecular tools, based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), have proved very successful at detecting and identifying infections with Theileria species in ticks (Kok et al., 1993; D'Oliveira et al., 1997; Allsopp et al., 1999; Sparagano et al., 1999), as well as chronic, low level 'carrier' infections in cattle (D'Oliveira et al., 1995; Allsopp et al., 1999; Kirvar et al., 2000; Sparagano, 1999; Sparagano and Jongejans, 1999; Morzaria et al., 1999). Multiplex PCR (Reverse line blot hybridization) can simultaneously detect and distinguish different genera and species of tick-borne parasites of cattle, including Theileria and Babesia, in blood samples (Gubbels et al., 1999).

For example, PCR and RLB have clarified the distribution of T. annulata and members of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli in Mauretania (D'Oliviera et al., 1995), Spain (Habela et al., 1999; Viseras and Garcia-Fernandez, 1999) and Italy (Sicily) (Maxia et al., 1999). In East Africa, a number of DNA-based tests are being used to detect T. parva in carrier cattle, differentiate Theileria species and parasite stocks and characterize the T. parva complex (Morzaria et al., 1999). Specific molecular tools for members of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli group in the Far East, as reviewed by Figueroa and Buening (1995), have been used to detect parasites in cattle and ticks (Hirano et al., 1991; Tanaka et al., 1993; Kawazu et al., 1995), and to investigate genomic diversity in stocks from different geographical areas (Matsuba et al., 1993).

Disease Course

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Theileria species are generally well adapted to their indigenous ruminant hosts, whether domestic or wild animals (Uilenberg, 1981b, 1995). Disease occurs when potentially pathogenic organisms infect 'susceptible' stock, susceptibility being due to genetic or breed factors, loss of immunocompetence or stress due to lactation, parturition, management changes or concomitant infections. As reported in work on T. annulata (Sergent et al., 1945; Samantaray et al., 1980; Preston et al., 1992) and on T. parva (Cunningham et al., 1974; Radley et al., 1974; Dolan et al., 1984; Jura and Losos, 1980), parasite dose influences the outcome of infection, whether subclinical or clinical, self-limiting or lethal. The time to appearance and population size of different parasite stages, the level of pyrexia, the nature and extent of haematological responses also influence the outcome of infection.

Knowledge of pathogenic mechanisms underlying clinical disease is scanty. Some of the different clinical manifestations of the theilerioses may be due to the relative pathogenic effects of the different parasite stages. Both schizonts and piroplasms of T. annulata are pathogenic, although schizonts may be most important (Pipano, 1974; Barnett, 1977). The schizonts of T. parva cause the major pathology of East Coast fever and piroplasms cause the diseases induced by the T. orientalis/T. buffeli group. The nature of mononuclear cells infected by schizonts also appears influential in determining differences between tropical theileriosis (Preston et al., 1999) and East Coast fever (Morrison et al., 1996; McKeever et al., 1999).

In tropical theileriosis (Forsyth et al., 1999) and East Coast fever (de Kock, 1957; Barnett, 1960; de Martini and Moulton, 1973a, b; Lawrence et al., 1994b), disease accompanies progressive damage to the lymphoid tissues and reticulo-endothelial tissues as schizont-infected cells metastasize. This is often accompanied by lymphocytic infiltrations, throughout the body. The presence of parasites in the pituitary glands and in badly damaged adrenal glands as shown for T. annulata (Forsyth et al., 1999) and for T. parva (de Kock 1957) may underlie the disruption of the endocrine and immune systems.

Cytokine production by uninfected host cells as well parasitized cells, appears to determine many of the typical clinical features and pathological responses of the theilerioses (McKeever et al., 1999; Preston et al., 1999). The production of cytokines, in particular tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a ) appears to underlie many of the symptoms (fever, inappetance, weight loss, emaciation) and pathological reactions (haemorrhagic necrosis) (Visser et al., 1995).

The clinical, haematological and parasitological parameters commonly used to classify disease reactions have been described for T. parva (Anon, 1989b) and for T. annulata (Darghouth et al., 1996c; Preston et al., 1998). They can be found in the datasheets for these infections.

Epidemiology

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Transmission and development of Theileria spp. in ticks

Typically, Theileria species (see pictures) undergo a cycle of clonal replication of schizonts in mononuclear cells in the lymphoid tissues, before developing into 'piroplasms' in erythrocytes. Piroplasms include the gametocytes, which are infective for ticks. Transmission is trans-stadial (see pictures). Transmission depends on the parasites' gametocytes being ingested by the larvae or nymphs of the particular tick species in which a parasite can undergo sexual recombination and sporogony. The sporozoites then need to be inoculated into an appropriate mammalian host by the next stage of the tick, i.e. the nymph or adult (see pictures).

Factors affecting parasite development in ticks

As with other tick-borne haemoparasites, the life cycles of the Theileria species and their transmission are closely synchronized with the feeding cycle of their tick vectors. Among the many tick-related factors which affect the development and transmission of Theileria spp. are: tick age, environmental temperature, climate, season, tick stage or sex, parasite variation, host cell susceptibility, resistance of vertebrate hosts to ticks and the level of parasitaemia in cattle (Kocan, 1995). Parasites normally mature to sporozoites only after the infective tick has started to feed (Uilenberg, 1981a), within 2-3 days for T. annulata and 3-5 days for T. parva (Brown, 1990a). However, development may be accelerated by high environmental temperatures (Samish, 1977; Sangwan et al., 1994). Ticks are considered to lose their infections when they feed and only act as vectors again if re-infected by their next blood meal.

Tick vectors

Theileria species are distributed by a number of different genera of two- or three-host ixodid ticks (Family Ixodidae). There is a close (sometimes exclusive) association between a Theileria species and a specific genus or species of tick (Brocklesby, 1976, 1978). The identity of specific vector ticks helps to distinguish Theileria species and subspecies (Uilenberg, 1981b).

Tick-cattle contact

Ticks of the genera Haemaphysalis, Rhipicephalus and Dermacentor hide on vegetation waiting for contact with their hosts (Jongejan and Uilenberg, 1994; Varma, 1993). Therefore animals at pasture become infested with the vectors of T. parva and members of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli groups. Hyalommid ticks actively hunt and crawl onto their hosts (Varma 1993), and often hide in cracks in the walls of animal houses. They emerge when hungry to hunt for hosts, and hence both pastured animals and stabled ones maintained on 'zero-grazing' regimes may be infested with the vectors of T. annulata (Sergent et al., 1945; Pipano 1977, 1989b).

Seasonality of transmission

Transmission of Theileria species and the occurrence of disease is determined by seasonal activity of the ticks (Pipano, 1976, 1977; Uilenberg, 1981a, b; Brown, 1990a). In the Northern Hemisphere, the vectors of T. annulata and members of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli group are active during the spring and summer - from April to August. Disease is seasonal depending on tick activity; most cases of tropical theileriosis occur between June and September in the Mediterranean regions (Jore d'Arces, 1952; Pipano, 1976; Sergent et al., 1945; Onar, 1989; Flach and Ouhelli, 1992; Flach et al., 1995; Bouattour et al., 1996; Pipano, 1994), the Sudan (Shommein, 1977), Kazakhstan, (Tutushin, 1979, 1981; Tutushin et al., 1982), Tadzhikistan (Ermoshkevich et al., 1979) and China (Lu and Yin, 1994; Ding et al., 1997; Huang et al., 1997). Tropical theileriosis does not occur in 'winter' - the parasite over-winters in cattle or in engorged immature ticks (e.g. nymphs) which become infective when they moult in the Spring. The exception is in India, where ticks are active and disease may occur all year round (Brown, 1990a). Clinical outbreaks in India occur during the rainy summer months (April-October) (Pipano, 1989a). Sporadic cases occur in the various geographical regions all year round. Transmission of the T. orientalis/T.buffeli group in China occurs mainly during May to July (Lu and Yin, 1994; Ding et al., 1997; Huang et al., 1997).

Climatic factors and day length affect the seasonal distribution of the various stages of Rhipicephalid ticks (Lawrence et al., 1994b). In South Africa, the seasonal distribution of clinical disease is influenced by adults being both more effective vectors than nymphs, and most active during the summer (i.e. January to March) (Lawrence et al., 1994b). In Zambia, under certain conditions, larval to nymph transmission may be more important than nymph to adult (Mulumba et al., 2000). In East Africa, the seasonal distribution of Rhipicephalus spp is not so well defined and East Coast fever may occur at anytime of the year in areas where rainfall exceeds 750 mm per annum, however the peak occurrence usually follows the rains (Norval et al., 1992).

Epidemiological factors influencing occurrence of disease

The occurrence of disease is also determined by interactions between the 'population dynamics' of vectors, hosts and parasites, and the factors influencing these interactions are complex (Norval et al., 1992). Tick abundance varies from season to season, year to year, and between habitats and ecological zones, under the influence of factors which affect the survival, development and behaviour of the different tick stages. The host factors, which underlie variations in the epidemiology of theilerioses, include the type, management and dispersal of cattle. Epidemiological factors, including climate (Barnett, 1968; Young, 1981), and parasite adaptations (Walker, 1990) affect the dynamics and maintenance of Theileria species in their tick and mammalian hosts. In endemic areas, tropical theileriosis can go almost unnoticed, and the normal status of infection is one of endemic stability (Brown 1990a).

Epidemiological studies

The epidemiology of T. parva has been studied in East, Central and South Africa (Norval et al., 1991, 1992; Lawrence et al., 1994a, b, d, e). Epidemiology of T. annulata has been studied in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco (Sergent et al., 1945), in Morocco (Flach and Ouhelli, 1992; Flach et al., 1995), in Tunisia (Darghouth et al., 1996a, b), in Turkey (Sayin et al., 1991; 1994), in endemic areas of the Central Asian Republics and Trans-Caucasia (Markov, 1962; Stepanova, 1976), in Iran (Rafyi and Maghami, 1962) and in China (Lu and Yin, 1994). Epidemiology of the T.orientalis/T. buffeli group has been studied in China (Lu and Yin, 1994).

Studies on T. annulata infections in imported pure-bred cattle and their cross-bred offspring in Tunis identified target populations for immunization and assessed the impact of anti-tick or anti-parasite (via vaccination) control measures on disease transmission and endemic status (Darghouth et al., 1996a, b, 1997). Particular concerns are the existence of potential vectors if infected/carrier animals are moved into disease-free areas, or the traditional vectors are eliminated. Also of concern are the factors which might lead to the resurgence of disease in areas where a disease, e.g. East Coast fever, has been eliminated (Norval et al., 1991). The effect of control measures on the epidemiology of T. parva is described by Norval et al. (1992). Serological and molecular tools are now available for investigating the epidemiology of T. annulata and members of the T. orientalis/T. buffeli group (Ilhan et al., 1998; Sparagano, 1999; Sparagano and Jongejan, 1999). They can also be used for defining infection dynamics of T. parva, and disease risks in various farming systems in East Africa (Morzaria et al., 1999).

Immunity in the field

T. annulata, T. parva and members of the T. orientalis/T.buffeli group can induce immune responses that confer solid immunity to challenge with tick-derived sporozoites. In endemic areas of tropical theileriosis, the normal state is one of endemic stability, in which all cattle may be infected and be carriers, and the majority of ticks which feed on cattle may also be infected (Brown, 1990a). In ECF endemic areas, many animals acquire immunity to the disease when first exposed as young calves of immune dams, which protects them against otherwise lethal challenges. Cattle recovered from a field infection may be carriers and infective for ticks (Brown, 1990a).

Protective immune mechanisms

The expression of protective immunity to Theileria species is complex because control of a primary infection involves eliminating schizonts, merozoites and intra-erythrocytic piroplasms. Protection against challenge necessitates killing tick-derived sporozoites and controlling establishing and established parasites. There is growing evidence that both adaptive, i.e. non T-cell dependent, and non-adaptive, T-cell dependent responses are involved in protecting cattle against infection and challenge (McKeever et al., 1999; Preston et al., 1999). High titres of antibody, capable of neutralizing sporozoites in vitro, may be produced in cattle repeatedly challenged with sporozoites (Musoke et al., 1982; Gray and Brown, 1981). Antibodies to schizonts do not appear to help control the parasites in vivo, but are useful indicators of the prevalence of infection for epidemiological studies, as assessed by IFAT or ELISA (Gray and Brown, 1980; Brown 1990a; Darghouth et al., 1996b; Ilhan et al., 1998; Morzaria et al., 1999).

Impact: Economic

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Bovine theileriosis (T. annulata and T. parva infections) is considered one of the four most important tick-borne haemoparasitic diseases of livestock, along with anaplasmosis, babesiosis and cowdriosis (Uilenberg, 1995). The bovine theilerioses became increasingly important throughout the twentieth century, as attempts to improve cattle productivity, particularly milk production, focused on the importation of exotic high-producing breeds into endemic areas (Brown, 1990b; 1997).

Mukhebi (1992) and Mukhebi et al. (1992) estimated that in 1989 T. parva infection in Africa resulted in losses of US$ 168 million ($7.02 per animal) due to mortality (including the deaths of 1.1 million cattle) and production loss among cattle (this being the largest contributor to the total), and the costs of control.

Although T. annulata and T. parva infection are considered to be the most important theilerioses, there are increasing records of the ‘T. orientalis/T.buffeli/T. sergenti’ group causing economically significant infections, especially in imported, immunocompromized or stressed animals. This has been described for example in Kyrgyzstan (Duisheev and Vercherkin, 1985), China (Luo and Lu, 1997), Korea (Purnell et al., 1981) and Japan (Minami et al., 1980; Sugimoto, 1997; Kim et al., 1998; Onuma et al., 1998; Shimizu et al., 2000).

Disease Treatment

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Drug treatment of bovine theilerioses has been described by Brown (1990a), Lawrence et al. (1994b) and Pipano (1994). According to Kalume et al (2011), halofuginone, parvaquone and buparvaquone are the main drugs used against T. parva infection, although cost and availability can be a problem, and treated animals remain infectious carriers. Buparvaquone can be used in the infection and treatment method of immunisation against T. annulata (Dhar et al., 1987, 1988, 1990; McHardy, 1991) and T. parva (McHardy and Wekesa, 1985; McHardy et al., 1985). Tetracyclines are used successfully in the infection and treatment method of immunization against both T. annulata (Gill et al., 1976; Pipano et al., 1981; Mallick et al., 1987) and T. parva (Dolan, 1981, 1987; Morzaria et al., 1988).

Prevention and Control

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The prevention and control of all the theilerioses depends upon an integrated approach against the parasites and their vectors. This involves management of stock, vector control, immunization and exploitation of host resistance to parasite and vector and chemotherapy - as in the control of any tick-borne disease (Brown, 1990b; Pipano, 1990; Pipano et al., 1991; Lawrence et al., 1994b; Kocan, 1995; Jongejan, 1999). The exact methods depend upon the Theileria species involved, the epidemiology of the infection and whether it is endemic or newly established in the area and spreading in an epidemic form , and the behaviour and ecology of its particular vectors.

Specific measures against T. annulata (Brown, 1990b; Pipano, 1990) and against T. parva (Musisi, 1990; Norval et al., 1992; Lawrence et al., 1994a, b, e) have been summarized. The success of combined measures against T. annulata in the former USSR have also been described (Shirinov et al., 1975; Stepanova, 1976; Marutyan, 1977, 1978; Gumbatov and Bagirov, 1979). The range of molecular tools for supporting integrated multidisciplinary control programmes against the bovine theilerioses is expanding rapidly. These are used for the detection, differentiation and characterization of the pathogens, and the detection of infected ticks (Figueroa and Buening, 1995; Sparagano, 1999; Sparagano and Jongejan, 1999; Sparagano et al., 1999; Morzaria et al., 1999).

Management

Management involves limiting contact between susceptible stock and the disease, by controlling host movement and host-tick contact. The aim of this is to ensure that a state of endemic stability exists, with all animals infected early in life, or that the target population is entirely free of disease (Brown, 1990b). In certain cases, transhumance during the tick season to tick-free areas is advised (Tutushin, 1979). The steps taken with respect to T. parva are described in Norval et al. (1992) and Lawrence et al. (1994a, b). The steps taken by individual countries for movement control/quarantine with respect to theilerioses are given in the current World Animal Health Yearbook published annually by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE).

Vector control

Ticks should be controlled so that either the cattle population does not come into contact with the vectors at all, or the cattle are deliberately exposed to infection at a time when they are most likely to resist the impact of the disease (Brown, 1990b). The conventional method for controlling ticks acquired at pasture is by dipping or spraying cattle with acaricides (Norval et al., 1992; Jongejan and Uilenberg, 1994; Lawrence, 1994b, e). Hyalomma spp may be controlled by acaricidal treatment of cattle and their accommodation and by improving animal accommodation to remove tick hiding places (Pipano, 1989b; 1990). The development of methods for stimulating immunity to ticks, to be used in conjunction with acaricides, is considered a rational approach for controlling ticks (Willasden, 1997; Willasden and Jongejan, 1999). Cost and availbilty of treatment can be a problem, and there is a risk of resurgence of the disease if treatment is interrupted (Kalume et al., 2011).

Studies on the development of improved methods of immunoprophylaxis

According to OIE (2013) (http://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Health_standards/tahm/2.04.16_THEILIERIOSIS.pdf), the most widely used vaccines are attenuated schizont cell culture vaccines against T. annulata; that publication provides instructions for their manufacture and use. T. parva vaccination involves inoculation of viable sporozoites simultaneously with treatment with a long-acting tetracycline to ensure that the resulting infection is mild (OIE, 2013).

Current studies on immune responses to Theileria species are predominantly aimed at identifying mechanisms, antigens and delivery systems for vaccine development (Morrison et al., 1995; Onuma et al., 1998; Preston et al., 1999; McKeever et al., 1999; Takasima et al., 1999; Sako et al., 1999). The recognition that innate and adaptive responses co-operate to control T. annulata suggests that recombinant vaccines against this parasite should include antigens initiating adaptive responses against both sporozoites and schizonts, and that the invariant molecular structures are recognized by the innate immune responses (Preston et al., 1999). The current strategy for developing improved vaccines against T.parva is based on a multicomponent formulation targeted at both schizont and sporozoite, which involves searching for the CTL antigens for the parasite, and vaccine delivery systems that will induce antigen-specific CTLs in cattle (McKeever et al., 1999). Immunization with the recombinant sporozoite surface antigens prepared from T. annulata (SPAG-1) and T. parva (p67) provides some protection against the respective parasites from which they were derived, as well as some cross-species protection (Hall et al., 2000). The immunodominant p32/34 kDa major surface antigen of the piroplasm (MPSP) (Kim et al., 1998; Onuma et al., 1998; Takasima et al., 1999) and the 23-kDa piroplasm surface protein (Sako et al., 1999) of members of the T. orientalis/T.buffeli group are being studied as candidate vaccine antigens.

Morrison and McKeever (2006) provide a review of the then current status of vaccine development against Theileria, describing live vaccines as still the best option although there had been useful progress towards the development of subunit vaccines.

Exploitation of host resistance to parasites and vectors

A long-term approach to controlling T. annulata would be to select cattle from within indigenous populations for productivity and to breed from them. Zebu (Bos indicus) breeds such as the Sahiwal would suit this purpose (Trail and Gregory, 1981; Preston et al., 1992), or selective crossbreeding would give an animal that can be highly productive in the face of these diseases. The use of Zebu or Zebu-cross cattle, which have an increased capacity for the development of resistance to ticks should be encouraged for T. parva (Lawrence et al., 1994b).

Controlling bovine theilerioses as part of an integrated strategy for controlling ticks and tick-borne diseases

In considering any control programme for theileriosis it should be remembered that the disease will probably be part of a complex of tick-borne diseases and tick worry that adversely affects the health and productivity of livestock, especially improved, high producing breeds (Lawrence et al., 1994b; Uilenberg, 1995). As animals may be protected against theileriosis only to succumb to other tick-borne pathogens, control measures against theileriosis must be part of an integrated strategy of control of ticks and tick-borne diseases (Dolan, 1987; Tatchell, 1987; Flach et al., 1989). As discussed by Lawrence et al. (1994b) control measures against one tick-borne disease in an endemic area may promote the occurrence of others. Intensive dipping to control one disease (for example East Coast fever) may disrupt the acquisition of immunity to all tick-borne diseases and lead to an upsurge of these diseases if dipping programmes are interrupted for financial or political reasons.

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