Theileria orientalis, the causative agent of oriental theileriosis, is an apicomplexan haemoparasite and is one of several tick-borne Theileria spp. infecting cattle. Unlike the highly pathogenic transforming Theileria species (T. annulata and T. parva) which induce uncontrolled lymphocytic proliferation, T. orientalis is a non-transforming strain exerting its major pathogenic effects via erythrocyte destruction. Clinical symptoms associated with oriental theileriosis are largely consequences of the underlying anaemia. Because of its non-transforming nature, T. orientalis was previously considered a benign parasite, however, in the recent years, clinical outbreaks of T. orientalis have been increasingly observed throughout Asia and Australasia. Recent rapid spread of clinical theileriosis has been linked to a pathogenic genotype of the parasite, genotype Ikeda (Type 2). The geographic distribution of clinical outbreaks correlates to the range of the major vector tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, although other vectors and modes of transmission are possible. This review includes discussion of T. orientalis epidemiology, transmission, pathogenesis, treatment and control and provides an update on the taxonomy of this organism which is still under debate.
Part of the book: Ticks and Tick-Borne Pathogens