A molecular survey of Theileria and Babesia parasites in cattle, with a note on the distribution of ticks in Tunisia

Y M'ghirbi, A Hurtado, J F Barandika, J Brandika, K Khlif, Z Ketata, A Bouattour
Parasitology Research 2008, 103 (2): 435-42
Between October and November 2006, a total of 278 bovine blood samples were examined, and 104 (37.4%) were positive for piroplasms by microscopy. A reverse line blot hybridisation with polymerase chain reaction detected Theileria annulata, T. buffeli, Babesia bovis and B. bigemina in cattle accounting for 48.6% of positive samples. The most frequently found species was T. buffeli, which was present in 39.2% of the samples. T. annulata was found in 48 samples (17.3%). Babesia infections were less frequently detected: B. bovis was found in 6.8% of the samples and B. bigemina in 4.3%. Mixed infections were detected in 45 samples, accounting for seven different combinations of species. Seven Ixodid tick species (Boophilus annulatus, Ixodes ricinus, Hyalomma marginatum, Hyalomma excavatum, Hyalomma detritum, Haemaphysalis punctata and Haemaphysalis sulcata) were collected from examined cattle in the 23 visited farms. I. ricinus was the dominant species (36%), mainly collected in the humid zone, while it seemed to be very rare in the semi-arid zone (where only 15 specimens were collected), whereas B. annulatus was the most commonly collected species in the sub-humid area (68.5% of ticks collected in this zone).

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