Research Team Manager: Dr Sikhumbuzo Mbizeni
Endo- and ectoparasites are of major economic importance to the
livestock industries in the tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world, which
includes South Africa. Heavy infestations can cause loss of blood, reduce
live-weight gain rates and lower milk yield and may cause dire direct damage.
Ectoparasites are also recognized world-wide as major vectors of a number of
diseases of man, domestic and game animals - ranging from arboviruses,
rickettsiae and spirochaetes to parasitic protozoa. Parasites therefore impact
both directly, by virtue of heavy infestations, and indirectly, through the
transmission of diseases: at the macro-economic level, where exports and the
commercial production of protein is of major concern; at the micro economic
level, where the subsistence economy of the resource-poor farmer may be at risk
and in a social context, where human diseases and zoonoses are concerned.
Long-term research since the time of Arnold Theiler in the early
20th century has placed the PVVD Programme in the fortunate position of having
wide baseline knowledge of these parasites, their effects and associated
diseases epidemiologies. Based on this tradition of research excellence, the
PVVD Programme continues to strive to attain the ARC motto of ‘Excellence in
Research and Development’
The PVVD Programme of the ARC-OVI aspires to provide an
outstanding contribution to animal health in South Africa and Africa by placing
its projects and activities strategically in the fields of parasitic helminths, insect and tick vectors, arbovirology and vector-borne pathogens with regard to
the maintenance of a high standard of excellence in research and development, diagnostic parasitology, helminth
taxonomy, technology transfer and in-service and formal training as shown by its
recent achievements and publications.
International and National collaborations enhance our activities.
The Programme is also the custodian of three National Assets (The Gertrud
Theiler Tick Museum, the National Collection of Insect Vectors, and the National
Collection of Animal Helminths). Unique to South Africa is the production of
Tick-borne disease (TBD) live blood vaccines, which commenced more than 50 years
ago and has now also been assigned National Asset status. Research on vaccine
development includes Heartwater and wireworm (Haemonchus contortus).
Fields of interest and/or strengths