Over a 3-year period, productivity characteristics and criteria of trypanosomiasis incidence and severity have been monitored by monthly examination of individual N'Dama cattle in villages in The Gambia. From this database, 60 lactating cows in which Trypanosoma congolense or T. vivax had been detected on blood examination (group 1) were compared with 50 cows which had not been found infected with trypanosomes during the monitoring period (group 2). The latter were selected on the basis of comparability of age and stage of lactation to those of group 1 for examining the effect of trypanosome infections on the quantity of milk extracted for human consumption, and on the growth of their sucking calves. Data from a 6- to 7-month period were examined in the analysis.
The quantity of daily milk extracted during the 1st month ot intection (group 1) decreased by proportionately 0·25 in comparison to the amount extracted during the preceding month when parasites were not detected. The corresponding figure in the uninfected controls (group 2) was 0·02. The mean daily milk extracted for human consumption from uninfected cows during a 6-month period was proportionately 0·26 higher than the mean for the infected cows. Growth rates of calves sucking infected and uninfected dams were similar.
These observations indicate that infection with pathogenic trypanosomes of lactating N'Dama cattle causes a reduction in milk production.
In economic terms, it was estimated that the decline in milk extracted for human consumption due to trypanosome infections amounted to an average of £1 per month per cow.