Original Research

Evaluation of medicinal turpentine used for the prevention of bovine babesiosis in southern KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern Free State

Louise J. Biggs, Chris A.P. Carrington, Vinny Naidoo
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 81, No 1 | a705 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v81i1.705 | © 2014 Louise J. Biggs, Chris A.P. Carrington, Vinny Naidoo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0
Submitted: 31 October 2013 | Published: 22 August 2014

About the author(s)

Louise J. Biggs, Department of Production Animal Clinical Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Chris A.P. Carrington, Department of Production Animal Clinical Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Vinny Naidoo, Biomedical Research Centre, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Medicinal turpentine has been used extensively in the eastern Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa with reportedly excellent results. It is believed that it is able to prevent and treat babesiosis (redwater) in cattle. Redwater is an often-fatal disease in cattle and results in losses of large numbers every year in South Africa. This study was initiated in an attempt to investigate the validity of the use of the turpentine as a medicinal agent. Using a semi in vitro screening assay, Babesia caballi grown in primary equine erythrocytes was exposed to various concentrations of turpentine in comparison to diminazene and imidocarb. The turpentine had no parasiticidal effect following direct exposure. During the recovery phase, the previously exposed parasites appeared to grow more slowly than the controls. In comparison, diminazene and imidocarb were 100% effective in killing the parasites. In a subsequent tolerance study in adult cattle (n = 6) at 1x (2 mL), 3x and 5x the recommended dose, the product was non-toxic. Irritation was noted at the injection site with the higher dose. The only major finding on clinical pathology was a general increase in globulins, without a concurrent change in native babesia antibody titres. It was concluded that it is unlikely that medicinal turpentine is an effective treatment against babesiosis.


Babesia, redwater; turpentine; red cell culture; tolerance study


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