Spatio-temporal clustering and risk factor analysis of bovine theileriosis (Theileria parva) in Zimbabwe from 1995 to 2018.
Bovine theileriosis (caused by Theileriaparva) is the most important tick-borne transboundary animal disease endemic to Zimbabwe, yet its distribution dynamics data in the country remain scant and outdated. A retrospective study was conducted to determine high-risk areas of bovine theileriosis and associated risk factors in Zimbabwe. Records on bovine theileriosis spanning 23 years (January 1995 to December 2018) were obtained from the Epidemiological Unit of the Division of Field Veterinary Services of Zimbabwe (DVSZ). Data were analysed using Studio R® version 11.0 for regression analysis and SatScan® version 9.4.6 for spatio-temporal clustering. Communal farmers (72%), adult cattle (29%), the year 2018 (60%) and the hot wet season (42%) had the highest proportion (p < .050) of bovine theileriosis cases recorded. Seven out of the country's ten provinces and 36 of its 59 districts were affected. Bovine theileriosis was observed to lose seasonality when cases rose exponentially in 2018. Five and four high-risk clusters of bovine theileriosis were detected using one-year and one-month time aggregate, respectively, all within the last eight years of the study (2011-2018). Two potential risk factors (province and farming system) were significantly (p < .050) associated with bovine theileriosis occurrence. Bovine theileriosis was found to be rampant and if left unchecked will spread and adversely affect the whole country. Improved theileriosis surveillance and control is warranted. Recommendations for control and prevention strategies revolve around better farmer awareness about the disease, correct and consistent use of acaricides, cattle movement control and disease surveillance among others.