Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Disease at the wildlife-livestock interface: acaricide use on domestic cattle does not prevent transmission of a tick-borne pathogen with multiple hosts.

Abstract

Several prominent and economically important diseases of livestock in East Africa are caused by multi-host pathogens that also infect wildlife species, but management strategies are generally livestock focused and models of these diseases tend to ignore the role of wildlife. We investigate the dynamics of a multi-host tick-borne disease in order to assess the efficacy of tick control from an ecological perspective. We examined the efficacy of a widespread measure of tick control and developed a model to explore how changes in the population of ticks due to control measures on cattle impact dynamics of Theileria parva infection in a system with two primary host species, cattle and Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer). We show that the frequency of acaricide application has a significant impact on the tick population both on the host and in the environment, which can greatly reduce the pathogen load in cattle. We also demonstrate that reducing the tick population through cattle-related control measures is not sufficient to diminish disease transmission in buffalo. Our results suggest that under current control strategies, which target ticks on cattle only, T. parva is likely to remain a significant problem in East Africa, and require the continued use of acaricides, which has significant economic and ecological consequences.