Thin blood smears from infected bovines showing Babesia bigemina, Anaplasma marginale, a brain crush smear showing Ehrlichia ruminantium and a lymph node biopsy smear showing a Theileria macroschizont.

Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases Monograph 3

Current author:
Abdalla A Latif


“Knowledge is Power”. This is an old but true saying – especially in the context of agriculture, animal production and food security, given that the world is threatened by climate change as the global population explodes past the seven billion mark. 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, in order to ensure that our quality products are properly and efficiently used. For this reason, Afrivet employs and/or contracts no fewer than twelve veterinarians, and also numerous agricultural graduates.

In accumulating all the necessary knowledge and information to properly equip us to live our vision, we realised that we had to ensure that this valuable knowledge and information was saved for posterity. So often – in private industry and especially in government – when an individual leaves an organisation, continuity of personal and institutional knowledge is lost. This reality becomes even more concerning when I think back on our animal health industry and remember all the great names whom I consider 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 A few have been replaced by suitable peers, but most have disappeared from the scene.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 15 respected experts available to consult in South Africa. But 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 9 000 copies printed so far, has further encouraged us, and we have followed through with similar books on other sectors of animal husbandry:

  • Diseases and parasites of horses, donkeys and mules in Southern Africa
  • Diseases and parasites of dogs and cats in Southern Africa
  • Diseases and parasites of sheep and goats in Southern Africa
  • Diseases and parasites of game animals in Southern Africa (a national first)

And more recently:

  • Nguni cattle: breed characteristics and functional efficiency
  • Veterinary helminthology for South Africa
  • The new game rancher

In searching for modern and up-to-date material for these books, however, we came across research that had been undertaken for a number of years by Prof. Abdalla Latif and 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 to do this and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) agreed to partner in terms of publishing this and three other tick monographs. 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 actually becomes power.

This is the last of four publications which Afrivet is funding, in order to contribute to making research 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.

Our next step, as Afrivet, and in conjunction with Prof. Koos Coetzer (retired deputy dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Onderstepoort), is to put all this stored knowledge onto an electronic platform on the web, under the name Anipedia. The first step was to acquire the rights to the world-renowned three-volume Infectious diseases of livestock. Today, this is a reality, with almost a dozen world-renowned, international universities having subscribed and many of the chapters available online with South African Veterinary Council-accredited continuing professional education (CPD) questions online. This will ensure a far wider reach, and much better accessibility to this previously locked away knowledge.


Ticks and tick-borne diseases of livestock have been recognised as a major impediment to economic growth and a cause of poverty in communal areas in Africa. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations produced two volumes on Ticks and tick-borne disease control: a practical field manual, dated back to 1984. I found these manuals at that time as useful guidelines for understanding the basics of tick control and epidemiology of tick borne diseases (TBDs). These manuals have, however, never been updated. This monograph on TBDs is intended to be a contribution in terms of guiding veterinarians, animal health technicians, veterinary students and farmers in the diagnosis, treatment, and control of such diseases. Usually, different tick species and vectors of TBDs inhabit the same region and infect the same animal, posing a diagnosis problem. This monograph includes sections on theileriosis, babesiosis, heartwater and anaplasmosis, with introductory information on each TBD, how to diagnose the causative agent, and showing their associated clinical signs, post-mortem, and control. For each disease, high quality photographs are used to enable the recognition of the early stage...

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