Unraveling the epidemiology of tick-borne diseases in cattle and the potential impact of a novel biopesticide in coastal Kenya

Project: PhD

Project Details


Ticks and tick-borne diseases (TBDs) pose a considerable challenge to cattle production in Africa (including Kenya), directly affecting livestock productivity (meat and milk production) and indirectly through cattle mortality. The burden of economic losses due to TBDs disproportionately impacts small-scale resource-poor households. The lack of updated data on the epidemiology of TBDs and the ecology of their tick vectors across ecological settings has hampered the implementation of appropriate interventions. This is further exacerbated by the widespread emergence of acaricide resistance in ticks, high costs, and the negative human health and environmental effects associated with the use of acaricides. This study aims to improve knowledge on tick biodiversity, TBD occurrence and distribution, and the status of acaricide resistance in coastal Kenya. Further, it will explore the efficacy of a fungus-based biopesticide (Metarhizium anisopliae isolate ICIPE 7, undergoing registration in Kenya as Mazao Tickoff®) in field conditions. Using mathematical modeling approaches, I will synthesize results from field and lab studies to project the epidemiological impact of Mazao Tickoff® in various settings, with the ultimate aim to provide empirical grounding for a new paradigm for sustainable tick control through innovative, effective, and locally adapted approaches. The project has four objectives: 1. Perform observational field studies to estimate the prevalence and diversity of ticks and TBDs, and to identify and document the risk factors contributing to their occurrence in coastal Kenya. 2. Perform larval packet tests (LPT), larval immersion tests (LIT) and adult immersion tests (AIT) to document the current status of acaricide resistance in ticks in coastal Kenya. 3. Perform a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to assess the efficacy of Mazao Tickoff® against natural tick infestations on cattle in coastal Kenya. 4. Develop mathematical models to assess TBD transmission in cattle and investigate the epidemiological impact of Mazao Tickoff® in smallholder farms in coastal Kenya.
Effective start/end date19/04/21 → …


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