The use of trypanotolerant livestock is considered to be an important strategy for the control of African animal trypanosomiasis. In order to define the extent of the differences in susceptibility and productivity, 10 Zebu cows (a breed considered trypanosusceptible) and 10 N'Dama cows (a breed recognised for trypanotolerance) were exposed to a natural field challenge from Glossina morsitans submorsitans Newstead. The animals were two-and-a-half to three years old and had not been previously exposed to trypanosomiasis. All Zebu died of trypanosomiasis within eight months of first exposure. In contrast, only three N'Dama died of trypanosomiasis; they had all been suckling calves before they succumbed 11 to 14 months after initial exposure. The prevalence, level and duration of parasitaemia were significantly less in the N'Dama, which, unlike the Zebu, did not become febrile during parasitaemia. The differences in parasitaemia were largely attributable to Trypanosoma vivax. The N'Dama also developed much less severe anaemia than the Zebu. The mean and standard deviation of the packed red cell volume of the N'Dama was not significantly different between eight months after exposure when all Zebu were dead, and 21 months when the experiment was terminated. The relative productivity of the N'Dama was impressive. In addition to reduced mortality, the N'Dama experienced no abortions and produced five calves, three of which were alive at the end of the experiment, at which time three of the surviving N'Dama were pregnant. In the Zebu, in marked contrast, abortions occurred both in early and late pregnancy and no live calves were produced. The study confirmed that N'Dama cattle are innately less susceptible to trypanosomiasis than Zebu cattle and can survive and be productive in endemic areas of trypanosomiasis where Zebu perish.
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