Two main methods are currently being used by farmers in the heartwater regions to control this disease in cattle and other stock, namely strategic control of ticks and total control of ticks. Some farmers make successful use of the latter method, particularly in areas which are marginal for the disease. Total tick control requires top managerial skills, which includes continual expert supervision, a relatively rare asset. The majority of farmers, often unintentionally, apply strategic control of ticks to control heartwater, either without or with vaccination against the disease. In this case the objective of tick control is to minimize "tick worry" without interfering too drastically with natural transmission of the disease. This method would make provision for natural immunization of young animals (a more uncertain method than vaccination) and the maintenance of immunity. In practice these methods appear to diminish deaths from heartwater appreciably, but do not protect all animals from the disease. Furthermore, they appear to be more effective in cattle than other stock. Although strategic control has an evolutionary background and considerable merit under African conditions, it is being applied in an empirical way because of paucity of information on the epidemiology of heartwater. More information on the infection rate in and infectivity of ticks (percentage of infected ticks) offer challenging research possibilities.
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