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Cowdriosis/Heartwater

Stachurski F., Gueye A., Vachiéry N.. 2019. In : Kardjadj Moustafa (ed.), Diallo Adama (ed.), Lancelot Renaud (ed.). Transboundary animal diseases in Sahelian Africa and connected regions. Cham : Springer, p. 459-484.

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-25385-1_22

Heartwater (or cowdriosis) is a tick-borne disease caused by Ehrlichia ruminantium, an obligatory intracellular bacterium of the order Rickettsiales, transmitted by several ticks of the genus Amblyomma. The organism is genetically highly variable which prevented until now the development of efficient vaccines. The disease is enzootic in sub-Sahelian Africa and in some Caribbean islands. It affects domestic and wild ruminants, the susceptibility to cowdriosis varying greatly between breeds and species: African wildlife shows mainly asymptomatic infections; local cattle breeds are generally protected due to enzootic stability; and introduced cattle breeds and small ruminants, even in enzootic regions, are usually susceptible to heartwater and can suffer high mortality rates. Cowdriosis is characterized by a sudden and acute fever followed by nervous, respiratory, and gastrointestinal symptoms and by hydrothorax and hydropericardium during postmortem examination. In West Africa, the only vector is Amblyomma variegatum, present in areas where pluviometry is higher than 500 mm. Therefore, animals of a high proportion of the Sahelian region are usually not infested by the tick and not infected by the bacterium. They are thus susceptible when introduced in southern parts of the Sahel or in the subhumid neighboring areas of the West African countries, for example during transhumance. Tetracyclines are effective drugs to treat heartwater when administered before occurrence of the nervous symptoms. Various vaccines have been tested, and are still developed, but, up to now, none of them showed enough effectiveness against all the field strains of E. ruminantium to allow its marketing. Prevention is therefore mainly achieved by drastic vector control or, on the contrary, acquisition of enzootic stability following tick infestation combined with tetracycline treatment as soon as hyperthermia occurs.

Mots-clés : vaccin; prévention des maladies; ruminant; metastigmata; vecteur de maladie; heartwater [en]; océan indien; antilles françaises; sahel; caraïbes; afrique au sud du sahara; cowdriosis

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