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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Tick-Host-Landscape Interactions Influencing the Ecology of Equine Piroplasmosis in Sub-Tropical Texas

Location: Animal Diseases Research

Project Number: 5348-32000-034-03
Project Type: Specific Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 30, 2012
End Date: Jul 31, 2017

Objective:
1. Determine whether relative zones of EP exposure are associated with spatial and temporal patterns of the tick species resident at an EP-positive location in South Eastern Texas. 2. Determine the prevalence of questing ticks positive for EP pathogens, Theleiria equi and Babesia caballi. 3. Define biological and ecological characteristics of tick species resident to the sub-tropical landscapes of Texas with potential to transmit EP pathogens. 4. Establish site-specific management guidelines to reduce risk of EP exposure. Identification of key interactions will be used to design interventions to reduce the risk of pathogen transmission.

Approach:
To identify site(s) in southeast Texas in close proximity to areas where the outbreak(s) of equine piroplasmosis have occurred. Using a variety of different sampling methods (dragging, CO2 trapping, inspection of hosts, etc.) establish the inventory of tick species present at different times of year (to establish seasonal variation). Collect and ship live ticks to ADRU so they can be evaluated for the presence of Theileria equi and/or Babesia caballi. Collect host association, habitat, climatic, land use, geospatial, and any other data that may influence presence or abundance of the different tick species. Evaluate the data collected for each tick species to see which may have an ecological association with horses that might implicate them as potential vectors, and establish colonies of those species to evaluate their vector competence for T. equi and B. caballi. Develop a geographic information system (GIS) based model as a framework for organization of all the data to test tick-host-landscape interactions that might support zoonotic maintenance of equine piroplasmosis pathogens, and to test the linkages between these interactions with field-based epidemiology. Using this model identify options for intervention and management.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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