K-State Researchers First in Fight Against Tick-Borne Disease

Researchers at Kansas State University are the first in the United States to look into methods of keeping a foreign tick-borne livestock disease at bay.

The Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases has received $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an additional $75,000 from the state of Kansas’ National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Transition Funds to build upon past research into containing and controlling heartwater disease, which is caused by a tick-transmitted pathogen.

Heartwater is deadly to cattle, sheep, and goats.

While heartwater originally was identified as a sub-Saharan African disease, it has been established in several Caribbean islands, posing a potential threat to the U.S. cattle industry.

High mortality rates up to 90% can occur in livestock if introduced into a non-endemic area, such as to the mainland United States.

There are no approved diagnostic tests or vaccines for heartwater disease in the U.S.