Monday, 30 September 2013

African Breed of Cattle Harbours Potential Defense Against Life-Threatening Parasite

Sep. 27, 2013 — Every year, millions of cattle die of trypanosomosis. The UN and the International Livestock Research Institute list trypanosomosis among the ten diseases of cattle with the greatest impact on the poor. In Africa the disease is known as "Nagana," which translates literally as "being in low or depressed spirits." The disease is caused by a parasite that enters the animals' blood as a result of the bite of the Tsetse fly.

Surprisingly, one West-African dwarf cattle breed, the Baoulé, seems less affected by trypanosomosis than others. When they are infected, Baoulé cattle develop fever and lose weight but do not necessarily die. Their immune system is thus better able to fight the parasite than that of other breeds. In other words, the cattle seem to have a natural tolerance against the parasite.

A method to detect different trypanosomes
Katja Silbermayr from the Institute of Parasitology of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni), together with an international research team, collected blood samples from three cattle types. The scientists have developed a method that can identify the parasites responsible for trypanosomosis, the trypanosomes, and can even detect three different forms of the parasite in a single step. The information is extremely valuable to veterinarians and farmers as each type of trypanosome causes a slightly different disease progression and requires a different type of treatment.

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