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African Breakthrough Links Ticks to Lumpy Skin Disease

23 April 2014

SOUTH AFRICA ā€“ A South African researcher has confirmed suspicions that tick species are involved in the transmission of lumpy skin disease to cattle.

Until now the animal community associated virus spread with flying insects. Three ticks can now be added to the list of vectors.

Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) decoloratus (blue tick), R. appendiculatus (brown ear tick) and Amblyomma hebraeum (bont tick) are disease vectors, according to researcher Dr Jimmy Lubinga of the University of Pretoria.

“Ticks can be spread over long distances by moving along with their animal host, for instance while feeding on migrating birds," said Dr Lubinga.

"The change of climate due to global warming is making it possible for ticks to successfully survive and quest in areas where previously they could not survive due to very cold conditions."

He added that the ticks act as virus ‘reservoirs’, allowing the virus to persist between epidemics.

"The virus has been found in their saliva and organs, and could potentially overwinter in these ticks,” said Dr Lubinga.

Lumpy Skin Disease can be costly, resulting in reduced milk and meat production, lower fertility – from reduced sperm quality – and scarring to cattle hides.

Mortality has been reported at 10 to 40 per cent on some holdings.

"This disease is of economic importance due to the damage it can cause to the skin, the reduced milk and meat production and lowered fertility of cattle," said Dr Lubinga.

"Restrictions on animal movement and trade can be imposed on infected areas."

TheCattleSite News Desk

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