Bimeda were invited to Morocco in May 2014 by our distributor there, Planet Health (PH). PH wanted us to visit in May as this is the start of the theileriosis season. Dr Nick McHardy, who discovered and developed the key drugs for the treatment of theileriosis, was part of the delegation.
During this visit we met some vets within the Doukkala region which has the highest incidence of theileriosis in Morocco. It was interesting to view the symptoms first hand (as demonstrated by the vets). Indeed, we were present when one such case arrived at the clinic.
The symptoms we found were very much in line with what Dr McHardy had found during his 40 years research on the disease. Not all of these symptoms are present in every case, but this is where the skill of the veterinarian is shown in diagnosing theileriosis, because the drugs used to treat the disease are so specific and have no effect on other diseases.
The vets agreed that the earlier this disease could be diagnosed, (together with any complicating conditions, including anaplasmosis, babesiosis and bacterial enteritis and pneumonia), the more rapid and complete the cure was likely to be, particularly the resumption of normal milk yields.
- High temperature (up to 42 degrees)
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Loss of condition
- Petechiation of the mucous membranes (in some cases)
- Breathing difficulties in some cases
- Severe reduction in milk yield
The local vets also told us about symptoms which are not generally associated with the disease, such as skin nodules and lameness.
The vets confirmed to us that it is essential to begin treatment as soon as possible after the diagnosis of theileriosis is confirmed. This involves injection of Buparvex into the neck muscles (for maximum dispersion) accompanied by an injection of Tetroxy LA (oxytetracycline) and / or an Imidocarb injection to control other tick transmitted infections, such as anaplasmosis and babesiosis, which are very commonly associated with theilerial cases. This is because theileriosis causes severe damage to the immune system, thus allowing other diseases to threaten the life of the animal. We also observed that additional supportive treatments, such as anti-inflammatories, may be given at the discretion of the veterinarians.
Response to Treatment:
A single treatment will cure most cases, however it is important to realise that a second injection may be required if temperature levels have not returned to normal within 72 hours. The animal is likely to remain anaemic for several more days and the lymph nodes may remain enlarged for 10 days or more. If the temperature has not fallen within 72 hours a second treatment is surely required.
Delaying the second treatment beyond this time may allow for a resurgence of the disease, making it difficult to cure. The vets we met outlined that in most cases they expect to see clear improvement within 2 to 3 days and a return to normal milk yield levels within a week or so.
In summary, we would recommend the following principles be observed for the management of Theileria annulata infection in Morocco:
- Diagnose early
- Diagnose accurately
- Treat promptly
- Treat correctly
- Diagnose and treat complicating conditions
- If recovery is slow, check diagnosis
- Observe recovered animals for relapses that may need further treatment
Our sincere thanks to Planet Health for inviting us to Morocco at this busy time of year and we hope that these notes will be helpful. Thanks also to the local vets we met along the way in particular in the Doukkala Region.