Understanding Immunity To Tick Borne Diseases In Cattle

Calving season at Main Station Field Lab, Reno, Nevada

The livestock disease, epizootic bovine abortion (EBA) also known as foothill abortion, can cause significant economic losses to beef cattle producers in the state of Nevada, as well as producers in California and Oregon. Many of the regions of Nevada where beef cattle production occurs are also the home of the tick, Ornithodoros coriaceus, which transmits the bacteria that causes foothill abortion. Infection with this disease can lead to large numbers of late-term abortions in effected cattle herds.

Currently beef cattle producers in the areas where EBA is prevalent can only avoid loss due to this disease by placing heifers or cows onto rangeland containing the tick vector prior to pregnancy in order to expose them to infection. This method of disease management can result in large losses if susceptible pregnant cattle are inadvertently placed on these rangelands.

This project measures the duration of immunity against this disease after an initial EBA induced abortion by infecting a herd of susceptible heifers and exposing them to subsequent experimental infection over a five year period.

The results of this research will provide cattle producers and veterinarians with scientifically validated information on the length of time that cattle are resistant to this disease for use in their cattle management decisions. The results of this project will also be of great value in the potential development of a commercially available vaccine against this important disease.