Ticks are parasitic arthropods that are present in most regions of the world. They feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and occasionally reptiles and amphibians, with the potential of transmitting diseases such as East Coast Fever, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, cowdriosis and African Swine Fever in livestock. They also transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, African tick fever, etc. in humans.
East Coast fever, which is transmitted by the Rhipicephalus appendiculatus tick species, is one of the major disease constraints to livestock keeping in East and Central Africa. Indeed, in Africa, it is estimated that a cow succumbs to East Coast fever every 30 seconds. This dreadful disease, which causes symptoms in cows that are similar to those of malaria in people, is caused by the protozoan parasite Theileria parva. After being infected with the parasite, the cow develops fever and often dies within days. Close to 100 percent of all cows that contract East Coast fever are killed by it, with 1.1 million cattle succumbing to the disease every year.
Control of tick-borne diseases in Africa is difficult, due to growing resistance to acarcides and pyrethroids and breakdown of acaricide dips. icipe’s approach is the development of management strategies that are effective and affordable to African farmers and which do not entail contamination of the environment. These tools are based on research on the ecology and behaviour, as well the interactions between ticks and the animals that they are parasitize. icipe has developed an effective acaricide that is based on entomopathogenic fungi, and field trials have demonstrated efficacy against ticks that are resistant to commonly used commercial acaricides sold in East Africa.