Research carried out in the Netherlands has revealed that the genetic background of cattle apparently determines how quickly and effectively they acquire immunity to infections from gastrointestinal worms. Such infections cause considerable economic losses in the beef farming industry. During her doctoral research, Kirezi Kanobana investigated how cattle rid themselves of worms and prevent new infections.
Kanobana used an infection model in which, based on their genetic background, animals exhibited varying degrees of resistance to gastrointestinal worms. Broadly speaking there are three groups of animals. Two percent of the animals are naturally immune to a first infection. Another group reacts to the first infection with an effective immune response. In the event of a second infection these animals are protected. A third group is highly sensitive for infection and scarcely acquires any immunity even after repeated infections.
The researcher distinguished the three groups of animals by using two types of measurement. Three-month-old calves were infected with 100,000 larvae of a small-intestinal worm. After the infection an initial distinction was made on the basis of parasitological variables such as worm counts and the detection of eggs in the animals’ excreta. Secondly, immunological parameters were used to confirm the three groups of animals.
Sonja Jacobs | alfa
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