New research has resulted in the mapping of the genome of the parasite that causes corridor disease, or East Coast fever. Corridor disease concerns veterinarians wherever livestock and domestic animals interact with each other.
Buffalo bred for disease-free projects have to be free of the disease in order to be sold as ‘clean' animals. In the same way that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, corridor disease is transmitted by ticks. It kills a million cattle every year in sub-Saharan Africa.
The disease is usually controlled by dipping cattle, but an understanding of the genome of the parasite may lead to a vaccine. There is evidence that the ticks are becoming resistant to the pesticides used to kill them. Two related parasites, Theileria parva and Thieleria annulata, both had their genome mapped and the results published in the journal Science.
The parasites effectively turn an animal's white blood cells into cancer-like cells, and understanding of the genome may also help enlighten people studying human cancers.