Bovine respiratory syncytial virus infection

Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases Monograph 1

Current author:
Arthur M Spickett - BSc (Hons) Zoology and Genetics, University of Pretoria, South Africa.


“Knowledge is Power”. This is an old but true saying – especially in the context of agriculture, animal production and food security, and given that the world is threatened by climate change as the global population explodes past the 7 billion mark. It is also based upon this simple saying, that the very essence of Afrivet is built. When Afrivet was formed in August 2000, we made the commitment – as part of our Vision and Mission – to “provide sound technical advice” to all our customers: veterinarians, farmers, emerging farmers, and companion animal owners. This was so that our quality products are properly and efficiently used. It is for this reason that Afrivet employs and/or contracts no fewer than seven veterinarians, and also numerous agricultural graduates.

In accumulating all the necessary knowledge and information so that we are properly equipped to live our Vision, we realised that we needed to ensure that this valuable knowledge and information be saved for posterity. So often – in private, and especially in government – when an individual leaves, so does their knowledge. It is never properly stored away, and if it is, it is very often never used by those who follow, and so we all start from scratch again. This reality becomes even more concerning when I think back on our animal-health industry and remember all the great names who I have considered to be experts in their fields. Where are all these people now? A few have been replaced by suitable peers, but most have disappeared from the scene. If I think of the field of parasitology, for example, I remember that during the 1980s and 1990s there were no fewer than 15 respected experts available to consult in South Africa. Today there are only a handful!

Afrivet published its first book in 2006: Diseases and Parasites of Cattle, Sheep and Goats in Southern Africa. The huge success of this book, with more than 7000 copies printed so far, has further encouraged us, and we have followed up with similar books on other sectors of animal husbandry:

  • Diseases and Parasites of Horses, Donkeys & Mules in Southern Africa
  • Diseases and Parasites of Dogs & Cats in Southern Africa
  • A more in-depth Diseases and Parasites of Sheep & Goats in Southern Africa
  • A national first: Diseases and Parasites of Game Animals in Southern Africa

More books are in the pipeline: a more comprehensive one on cattle, another on Nguni cattle, and yet another on helminths of livestock in Southern Africa.

However, in searching for modern and up-to-date material for these books, we came across research which had been undertaken for a number of years by Arthur Spickett at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (OVI). We felt strongly that the information should be made available to farmers, veterinarians and researchers alike – as a matter of urgency. Afrivet offered (and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) agreed) to partner in terms of bringing this and three other information books to the general public. Research information that is locked up in the researcher’s mind, or in a library, is of no use to us at all. It is only through knowledge transfer –Afrivet’s passion – that knowledge becomes power.

This is the first of four publications which Afrivet is funding, in order to contribute to making the knowledge generated by the ARC-OVI available to the public.

The 4 monographs in the series will be:

  1. Ixodid ticks of major economic importance and their distribution in South Africa
  2. Illustrated guide to identification of African tick species
  3. Tick-borne diseases in Southern Africa
  4. Control of ticks and tick-borne diseases in Southern Africa.


Initially, when I was approached to compile this handbook, I was filled with trepidation and reluctance. This derived – during a career focussed on ticks – from a state of mind induced by having been exposed (some would say overexposed), delighted, educated and enlightened by the ‘greats’ in the tick scientific literature, of whom I have stood in awe for most of my life. Nevertheless, should this handbook in some small way contribute to the vast body of information available on ticks, especially in a South African context, my disquiet and inputs will be well worth while. The rationale for a handbook of this type became evident some years ago. It should partially fill the void created when the acclaimed and popular (amongst students, veterinarians, peripheral research workers and lay public) information brochure – Science Bulletin No. 393. Ticks, mites and insects infesting domestic animals in South Africa, Part 1. Descriptions and Biology, by Howell, Walker and Nevill (published in 1978) – went out-of-print. An additional incentive was the information garnered from a decade of research. This had involved structured and unstructured tick surveys (generously funded by the then Department of Agriculture, and now the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries) – aimed at determining the suitability of tick habitats in South Africa, and thus enabling the compilation of detailed distribution maps of the most economically important local ixodid tick species. Despite many associated issues (hopefully not too opinionated) – disguised as the shaping of concepts into, amongst others, basic tick biology, the economic impact of ticks...

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