Tick burden and prevalence of Theileria parva infection in Tarime zebu cattle in the lake zone of Tanzania


This study was carried out to assess the distribution, abundance of different tick genera and prevalence of Theileria parva infection in Tarime zebu cattle kept in selected wards of Serengeti and Tarime districts in Mara region. Adult ticks were identified and counted from half body parts of 360 animals which were extensively managed in communal land with natural pastures. Concurrently, blood samples were col- lected and thereafter DNA extracted and a nested polymerase chain reaction (nPCR) was done using primers specific for p104 gene to detect the presence of T. parva DNA. Ticks were identified into four groups: Amblyomma genus, Boophilus sub-genus of Rhipicephalus genus, other species of Rhipicephalus, and Hyalomma genus. Rhipicephalus genus accounted for 71.8 % of the total ticks, whereas Amblyomma, Boophilus sub-genus of Rhipicephalus genus and Hyalomma constituted 14.1, 14.0 and 0.1 %, respectively. There were more animals (p<0.05) infested with ticks in Tarime district (96.1 %) than in Serengeti (61.7 %). The average counts of ticks were higher in adult animals (p<0.05) than in young animals. The overall prevalence of T. parva was 27.7 % and was higher (p<0.05) in Serengeti (38.3 %) than in Tarime district (16.7 %). However, all animals tested positive for T. parva did not show any clinical signs of East Coast fever (ECF), suggesting the existence of subclinical infection in Tarime zebu. These results suggest that Tarime cattle can tolerate ECF infection and are likely to serve as potential carriers of T. parva to other less-tolerant cattle breeds in mixed herds. Since Tarime cattle are preferred by most farmers with mixed herds, routine screening for T. parva is highly recom- mended to minimize introduction of infected cattle into an immunologically naive population.



East coast fever, Tarime zebu, Tick species, Tolerance