SUMMARY Susceptible Hereford cattle of different ages were inoculated with 2 times 108Babesia bovis organisms. Experiment 1 consisted of cows aged 6 to 7 years, steers aged 17 to 18 months and calves aged 5 to 6 months, while experiment 2 consisted of cows aged 6.5 to 7.5 years, steers aged 23 to 24 months and yearlings aged 11 to 12 months. Daily measurements of temperature, parasitsemia and packed cell volume were made in order to determine susceptibility of the different ages.
Twenty-four of the 36 animals in experiment 1, which included all 12 cows, required treatment. One cow died as a result of an enlarged ruptured spleen, and 2 steers and 1 calf died with classical babesiosis symptoms. No treatment was given to experiment 11 animals, and 5 of the 12 cows died, but the steers and yearlings underwent relatively mild reactions. Statistical analysis confirmed the high susceptibility to B. bovis of the aged cows in both experiments, and the innate resistance of 5 to 6 month old calves in experiment 1. The reaction of the 18-month-old steers in experiment 1 was significantly greater than that of the calves, but significantly less severe than that of the aged cows. Two-year-old steers and yearlings in experiment 2 underwent similar mild reactions, suggesting that innate immunity may persist for longer periods when compared to aged cows. Age groups showing reduced susceptibility were found to reach peak parasitaemia, temperature and anaemia before the more susceptible age groups.
Heterologous challenge of the remaining experiment 1 and experiment 2 animals at 6 and 8 months respectively after primary inoculation, revealed all animals of all ages had a solid resistance to B. bovis.