Prevalence and spatial distribution of Theileria parva in cattle under crop-livestock farming systems in Tororo District, Eastern Uganda

Dennis Muhanguzi, Kim Picozzi, Jan Hatendorf, Michael Thrusfield, Susan Christina Welburn, John David Kabasa, Charles Waiswa
Parasites & Vectors 2014, 7: 91

BACKGROUND: Tick-borne diseases (TBDs) present a major economic burden to communities across East Africa. Farmers in East Africa must use acaracides to target ticks and prevent transmission of tick-borne diseases such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, cowdriosis and theileriosis; the major causes of cattle mortality and morbidity. The costs of controlling East Coast Fever (ECF), caused by Theileria parva, in Uganda are significant and measures taken to control ticks, to be cost-effective, should take into account the burden of disease. The aim of the present work was to estimate the burden presented by T. parva and its spatial distribution in a crop-livestock production system in Eastern Uganda.

METHODS: A cross sectional study was carried out to determine the prevalence and spatial distribution of T. parva in Tororo District, Uganda. Blood samples were taken from all cattle (n: 2,658) in 22 randomly selected villages across Tororo District from September to December 2011. Samples were analysed by PCR and T. parva prevalence and spatial distribution determined.

RESULTS: The overall prevalence of T. parva was found to be 5.3%. Herd level prevalence ranged from 0% to 21% with majority of the infections located in the North, North-Eastern and South-Eastern parts of Tororo District. No statistically significant differences in risk of infection were found between age classes, sex and cattle breed.

CONCLUSIONS: T. parva infection is widely distributed in Tororo District, Uganda. The prevalence and distribution of T. parva is most likely determined by spatial distribution of R. appendiculatus, restricted grazing of calves and preferential tick control targeting draft animals.

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