Control of tick borne disease: molecular epidemiology, host resistance and novel vaccine antigens
Tick-borne diseases (TBD) affect 80% of the world's cattle population, and are a significant threat to global food security. Tropical theileriosis caused by Theileria annulata is an important tick borne disease of cattle and buffalo in India, with estimated losses of $499 million per annum). Cattle and buffalo are also infected with Babesia, and the rickettsia, Anaplasma and Erlichia. Current control of TBD in India is via a combination of acaracides, anti-parasite drugs, vaccination with parasites attenuated for virulence and cross breeding for natural resistance.
All these strategies have limitations such as resistance of ticks to acarcides and pathogens to drugs, delivery and production problems for vaccines and a loss of productivity in breeds resistant to disease. Moreover, animals carrying T. annulata have been associated with > 50% of production loss. Thus, new methods of control are needed if food security is to be increased, the ultimate goal being a disease free situation and full potential productivity.
The proposed project will have three related aims/objectives:
1) undertake an extensive molecular epidemiological analysis of tick borne disease and model the impact of different control strategies; 2) using a systems based biology approach, investigate the nature of within and between breed resistance to infection with T. annulata and
3) investigate the impact of antigenic diversity on antigens that are candidates for a transmission blocking vaccine against tropical theileriosis in order to develop a strategy that counters the ability of the parasite to evade an immune response.
All three objectives are designed to develop and improve of strategies to control TBD and reduce economic loss, in India. Such strategies will also be value to the UK since significant levels of disease in livestock in the UK are caused by tick borne pathogens: Anaplasma, Staphlycocci, B. divergens and the louping ill virus.
First published: 3 July 2014