Lesser Parasites Could Hold Fever Vaccine Answer

AFRICA – East Coast Fever is far less deadly to calves if the host becomes simultaneously infected with a much less potent tick-borne infection.
calendar icon 25 March 2015
clock icon 1 minute read

The effects of the fever are diminished by less harmful parasitic species Theileria mutans or Theileria velifera, according to a study in the journal Science Advances.

New understanding could inform vaccination protocol by using benign versions of the two parasites, T.mutans and T. velifera, potentially saving millions of cattle each year. 

Researchers put this down to an immunomodulatory effects of the tick Theileria parva being “moderated” by other species, although this remains a hypothesis.

Thumbi Mwangi, Washington State University said: "We now know that certain parasite co-infections can have strong protective effects - as strong as those offered by vaccines - against certain deadly diseases.”

He said the findings could inform how human diseases are approached.

Over 500 shorthorn Zebu calves were monitored in the study through the first year of life from birth.

Blood tests revealed 86 per cent had a T.parva infection with the surprise being only 18 per cent showing symptoms of East Coast Fever, reported science journalists at Eurekalert.

Further Reading

Read more about the study and a potential East Coast Fever vaccine by clicking here.

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