Application of a reverse line blot assay to the study of haemoparasites in cattle in Uganda
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International Journal for Parasitology;34(5): 603-613
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/32957
Recent advances in genomic technology have focused many veterinary researchers on the possibility of producing one multivalent recombinant vaccine against all the haemoparasites that infect cattle in the tropics. Before such a vaccine is developed it is essential to define target cattle populations as well as the range of anti-pathogen vaccines required in order to control disease. To further this objective, we have evaluated a reverse line blot (RLB) assay, which simultaneously detects the principal tick transmitted protozoan and rickettsial cattle pathogens, in different epidemiological scenarios in Uganda. A critical question is the sensitivity, particularly in relation to detecting carrier animals. As Theileria parva is considered to be the most important pathogen in the region, we assessed the sensitivity of the RLB assay for T. parva and showed that 1-2 x 103 parasites per ml of blood could be detected--a level comparable with previously developed PCR methods and well below conventional microscopic detection. We applied the RLB assay to evaluate the differences in pathogen profiles between crossbred and indigenous cattle and show that there were different profiles, with a low prevalence of T. parva and Theileria taurotragi in the indigenous cattle compared to a high prevalence in the crossbred cattle. In contrast, we show higher prevalences of Theileria mutans and Theileria velifera in the indigenous compared to the crossbred cattle. Interestingly Anaplasma marginale, Babesia bovis and Babesia bigemina were of low prevalence but a high prevalence of Ehrlichia bovis was seen, raising the question of whether this rickettsial species could be pathogenic in cattle. Analysis of animals with clinical symptoms of East Coast Fever showed that, while T. parva is a major cause of these symptoms, T. mutans and possibly T. taurotragi and T. velifera, may also cause clinical disease. Overall, the results presented here highlight the complexity of tick-borne pathogen infections in cattle in Uganda.