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

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

  1. In vitro cultivation of various protozoal and rickettsial organisms of domestic and wild antelope species
  2. Tick and helminth biosystematics and ecology
  3. Epidemiology of ticks, tick-borne diseases and helminths related to integrated control
  4. Basic and advanced training in tick identification
  5. Alternative control strategies to combat the development of anthelmintic resistance
  6. Control and prevention of tapeworm-related health problems in animals and man
Diagnostic ParasitologyTick-borne disease vaccines Epidemiology of
vector-borne diseases
 Parasitic Helminths