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New Publication Could Help Unravel Babesiosis Upsurge

10 January 2014

NORWAY – A research paper exploring the reasons behind the changing extent of a tick species in Norway has been published in the paper Parasites and Vectors.

The study Climate and environmental change drives Ixodes ricinus geographical expansion at the northern range margin concluded that ticks were moving altitudinally and latitudinally because of climate change.

It follows Multi-source analysis reveals latitudinal and altitudinal shifts in range of Ixodes ricinus at its northern distribution limit which assessed the extent of tick spread, both northwards and inland.

Epidemiologist Solveig Jore is already involved in a follow up study
Photo Courtesy of Norwegian Veterinary Institute

This means ticks were recorded further north and increasingly in more upland bush pasture areas, potentially affecting cattle and sheep without immunity to tick borne illnesses, like Babesiosis.

The exact reason for the expansion of the tick coverage was unknown, although the team said: “The results offer novel insight in how tick and tick-borne disease distribution might be modified by future climate and environmental change.”

Environmental and ecological factors like ground surface temperature, spring precipitation, duration of snow cover, abundance of red deer and farm animals and bush encroachment were taken into account. 

Length of growth season, mean temperature and abundance of roe deer were not significant in the model, the paper concluded. 

Solveig Jore, co-author of the report, said the findings could explain the recent ‘upsurge’ in bovine babesiosis.

Dr Jore said:“With increased abundance of ticks and a geographical expansion of the distribution area we might expect also increased prevalence of bovine babesiosis.”

However, she did caveat that the actual effect on cattle was difficult to predict.

The disease data is available thanks to the national record, The Norwegian Cattle Health Recording System (NCHRS), which Dr Jore said had proved helpful in tracking the rise of Babesia divergens.

“The NCHRS records the occurrence of diseases in cattle, including babesiosis caused by Babesia divergens,” said Dr Jore. “The treating veterinarian has to diagnose, describe and sign off the treatments given to the individual dairy cow on Cow Health Card.”

She also told TheCattleSite that a follow up study, ‘BUSHTICK’, is already underway.

BUSHTICK aims to answer questions about bush encroachment and the effect it has on tick distribution and disease prevalence.

The phenomenon of bush encroachment is important in marginal areas of Europe, especially with regard to grazing and land use change.

Furthermore, Dr Jore revealed that the study is the first of its kind in Norway as part of the pan-national, European based, parasite and vector project EDENext.

Further Reading

For a previous article on this, click here

You can view the full report by clicking here.

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms


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