Developing a Piroplasmosis Control Strategy for Sudan

Researchers hope to develop a control strategy to prevent piroplasmosis from spreading to other nations.

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Governments and international organizations continually strive to improve equine import and export worldwide while maintaining disease spread. The African country of Sudan, for instance, is facing a particular endemic (native) challenge—equine piroplasmosis—head-on, and an international research team hopes to develop a nationwide control strategy to prevent spread to other nations.

That team is currently mapping out geographic locations where piroplasmosis has been reported and where it has spread in Sudan and developing a new diagnostic test for the disease.

Across Sudan, as many as 35.9% of “healthy” horses and donkeys are positive for pirosplasmosis, said Bashir Salim, PhD, research fellow in the department of parasitology at the University of Khartoum Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, in Khartoum-North, Sudan. Working with researchers from Kenya, Germany, the U.K., and Japan, Salim has been gathering and analyzing data from all Sudanese states over the past seven years.

A proper piroplasmosis management strategy requires an accurate identification of the protozoa species that causes this tick-borne disease, Salim said. In his study he investigated the use of a novel technique for differentiating protozoal species (primarily Theileria equi and Babesia caballi) based on a technique called capillary electrophoresis genotyping for a single gene (18s rRNA). The technique is easy to use, highly sensitive, and essentially rules out the possibility of false positives, which are problematic with other testing methods currently available in Africa, he said

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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