Modeling the spatial distribution of Theileria parva (Theiler 1904), causative agent of East Coast Fever disease in cattle
Theileria parva is a protozoan emo-parasite affecting sub-Saharan Bos taurus and Bos indicus populations. It is the causative agent of East Coast Fever, a major cattle disease causing the death of 1.1∙106 animals per year and an annual loss of 168∙106 USD (Norval et. al., 1992). T. parva geographical occurrence is bound to the presence of susceptible bovine host populations, the main tick vector Rhipicephalus appendiculatus (Neumann 1901), as well as suitable ecological conditions for the survival of both the vector and the parasite. While tick habitat requirements have been extensively investigated (see e.g. Cumming, 2002), studies focusing solely on the environmental conditions determining the parasite occurrence are still lacking. The goal of the study is to define T. parva ecological fundamental niche, thus fostering our understanding of the environmental requirements needed to maintain the parasite-vector-host biological system.