An outbreak of East Coast Fever on the Comoros: a consequence of the import of immunised cattle from Tanzania?
In 2003 and 2004, a severe epidemic decimated the cattle population on Grand Comore, the largest island of the Union of Comoros. Fatalities started soon after the import of cattle from Tanzania. Theileria parva and its vector, Rhipicephalus appendiculatus, could be identified as the main culprits of the epidemic. Characterisation by multilocus genotyping revealed that the T. parva parasites isolated on the Comoros were identical to the components of the Muguga cocktail vaccine used in Tanzania to immunise cattle. Therefore, it is believed that East Coast Fever reached the Comoros while some of the imported livestock got infected in Tanzania by ticks of which the immature stadia fed on Muguga cocktail vaccinated animals. Since the Comorian government neither has the financial means nor the competent staff to pursue an adequate epidemiosurveillance, the danger exists that without external assistance and in a context of continuing globalization more transboundary diseases will affect the Comorian livestock sector in the future.