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Demonstration of vertical transmission of Cowdria ruminantium, the causative agent of heartwater, from cows to their calves


Demonstration of vertical transmission of Cowdria ruminantium, the causative agent of heartwater, from cows to their calves



Veterinary Parasitology 61(1-2): 119-132



ISSN/ISBN: 0304-4017

PMID: 8750689

DOI: 10.1016/0304-4017(95)00819-5

One of the most important questions about the epidemiology of heartwater in the field is how Cowdria ruminatium is transmitted within vertebrate host populations. In this study vertical transmission of C. ruminantium from cows to their calves was demonstrated. Twelve mixed-breed calves, born to dams living in a heartwater-endemic area of Zimbabwe, were tested post-natally for the presence of C. ruminantium. Vertical transmission was demonstrated to occur under natural field conditions using tests in which uninfected laboratory-reared Amblyomma ticks were fed on neonatal calves and subsequently either fed on, or inoculated into, susceptible small ruminants or tested by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Prior to natural Amblyomma tick infestation, C. ruminantium infection in 5 of the 12 calves was confirmed by tick transmission to small ruminants and 11 of the 12 calves tested positive based on PCR analysis of ticks fed on them. The role of colostral cells, as one mode of infection, was demonstrated by the transmission of C. ruminantium to three out of five goats inoculated intravenously with viable colostral cells collected from dams living in a heartwater-endemic area. The significance of vertical transmission is presented in relation to the epidemiology and control of heartwater.

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Accession: 045723722

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