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Vet Parasitol. 1988 Apr;28(1-2):19-32.

Isolation and characterization of bovine Theileria parasites in Zimbabwe.

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Veterinary Research Laboratory, Causeway, Zimbabwe.


Theilerial parasites of cattle were isolated by a variety of methods from the Harare area of Zimbabwe. Parasite stocks were established in lymphoid cell cultures and as cryopreserved sporozoite stabilates in the laboratory. Fourteen stocks in culture were characterized by testing them with monoclonal antibodies (MAb) raised against T. parva parva and T. parva lawrencei antigen. Two of these stocks had profiles similar to T. taurotragi isolates from East Africa, the other stocks had profiles similar to T. parva parva, however, many of them failed to bind MAb No. 7, and this may be a distinctive feature for T. parva bovis. Three T. p. bovis stocks were titrated by injecting different doses of the respective stabilates into pairs of cattle. Reactions ranged from severe to inapparent according to the stocks and dose used, but no fatal reactions were recorded, even at the highest dose rate. On recovery, all cattle were given homologous and then heterologous challenge. The results of the latter challenge showed that the Boleni stock gave good cross-protection against challenge with two other Zimbabwean stocks. This stock may therefore be a candidate for immunizing cattle, under field conditions, to protect them against T. p. bovis in Zimbabwe. Non-pathogenic strains of T. p. bovis may be difficult to distinguish from T. taurotragi unless cross-challenge experiments can be conducted and/or MAb profiles have been made. An improved serological test is needed to differentiate antibodies to these parasites in the sera of recovered cattle.

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