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Projects and activities | 14 October 2019

MetVAC - Ecosmart Alternative Control Strategies against T. annulata and its Tick Vectors

Domestic livestock play an important economic and cultural role for an enormous number of resource-poor farming communities in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. The prosperity of small family-run farms depends on the generation of livestock products such as milk and meat. The most important factor limiting productivity and impacting animal welfare in these regions is infectious disease, which can kill farm animals, reduce growth of the infected animals and inhibit milk production. Improved prevention and control of these diseases would allow local farmers to increase their standard of living. The cattle disease tropical theileriosis is a major constraint to livestock production in northern Africa, Asia and some areas of southern Europe, with approximately 250 million animals at risk. The disease is caused by a parasite called Theileria annulata and is transmitted by ticks. Current methods to control or prevent this disease suffer from a number of disadvantages and the aim of the proposed research is to develop eco-smart, region-specific and easy to apply methods. Importantly, scientists in the countries where the disease is common will be trained to develop and implement new techniques to control tropical theileriosis. To control this disease, it is necessary to efficiently identify infected animals and to utilize ecologically-friendly and easy to apply methods to combat the parasite and the ticks that transmit it. This project aims to

  1. identify places where disease needs to be controlled
  2. learn which cattle breeds do not get sick
  3. understand why available drugs fail to cure infection in certain animals
  4. develop region-specific vaccines to protect animals and
  5. develop ecologically friendly compounds against ticks

To try and achieve these aims, an international collaborative research team has been formed which combines a range of basic and applied research expertise on this parasite.

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