Reindeer immune response against warble fly infection

The project aims to get basal knowledge of the reindeer immune response against warble fly infection in order to develop vaccination strategies and alternative treatment strategies in the future. This is important both for animal welfare and economical purposes.

A warble fly (Hypoderma tarandi) is laying eggs in the fur of a reindeer. Foto: Arne C. Nilssen
Warble fly infection is a large problem in the northernmost regions of Norway where up to 100 % of the reindeer have warble fly larvae under their skin. This is a very painful condition and a large animal welfare challenge in the reindeer herding industry. The parasitic infection is treated with ivermectin and this is the only legal parasitic treatment for Norwegian reindeer. Resistance against the drug would hence be catastrophic. Climatic alterations may also change the balance between host and parasite and it is unknown how the reindeer-warble fly dynamic may be affected in the future.

In this project, we use blood samples from reindeer calves held at the University of Tromsø.

When the larvae hatch they migrate under the skin, grow larger and become visible during late winter and spring, before they leave their host. Foto: Arne C. Nilssen
These samples are utilized to characterize antibody isotype responses, serum levels of relevant cytokines and proliferation and cytokine production from peripheral blood mononuclear cell in response to relevant warble fly antigens. This basal knowledge of the reindeer immune response against warble fly infection is important in order to develop vaccination strategies and alternative treatment strategies in the future. This is important both for animal welfare and economical purposes.

Funding: RUF; Reindriftens Utviklingsfond. Project period: 2018-2019. Project leaders: Kjetil Åsbakk and Ingebjørg H. Nymo.

The project is a cooperation between UiT (Arctic Infection Biology; AIB) and Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Tromsø.


Responsible: Morten Tryland