Ponnudurai G, Stephen Larcombe, Velusamy R, Rani N, Kolte SW, Rubinibala B, Alagesan A, Rekha B and Brian Shiels
In India, disease of cattle caused by tick-borne pathogens (TBP) constrains the rearing of high yielding Bos taurus dairy breeds that often develop clinical, fatal disease. Bos indicus and bufflao show resistance to TBP infection, and this has led to a policy of rearing crossbred indicus-taurus cattle. On dairy farms, co-grazing more resistant animals alongside crossbreeds could contribute positively (by removing potentially infective ticks) or negatively (by acting as a reservoir for infection). We investigated epidemiological factors that contribute to the prevalence of five tick-borne pathogens with links to milk-yield in co-grazed host types in dairy farms of two regions of Tamil Nadu, India; a region of high dairy production importance. A high prevalence of T. annulata and Anaplasma spp. was detected, but with lower prevalence in the Cauvery Delta than in the Northwestern zone. A strict host-type association with prevalence was observed: buffaloes had lower prevalence of TBP than cattle; and native breeds had a lower prevalence of Anaplasma spp. than crossbreeds. The results indicate that while susceptibility to becoming a carrier animal for TBP depends on exposure to ticks; aspects of resistance are determined by host type independent of tick exposure. There was no clear evidence that co-grazing, with more resistant host types, will provide a positive contribution (protective effect) to crossbreeds with greater milk productivity.