Occurrence of tick-transmitted pathogens in dogs in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria

Mathew Adamu, Milana Troskie, David O Oshadu, Dikeledi P Malatji, Barend L Penzhorn, Paul T Matjila
Parasites & Vectors 2014 March 24, 7: 119

BACKGROUND: Canine babesiosis caused by Babesia rossi, transmitted by Haemaphysalis elliptica in South Africa, has also been reported from Nigeria. Although H. leachi (sensu lato) is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, published literature on the occurrence of canine babesiosis is meagre. It has been postulated that the genotype of Babesia rossi Erythrocyte Membrane Antigen 1 (BrEMA1) may be linked to virulence of the specific isolate. The primary objective of this study was to detect and characterise tick-borne pathogens in dogs presented to a veterinary hospital using molecular techniques. In B. rossi-positive specimens, we aimed to determine whether the BrEMA1 gene occurred and to compare genotypes with those found in other isolates. Lastly, we wished to identify the tick species that were recovered from the sampled dogs.

METHODS: Blood specimens (n = 100) were collected during January to March 2010 from domestic dogs presented at an animal hospital in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. They were screened for the presence of Babesia/Theileria and Ehrlichia/Anaplasma genomic DNA using PCR and Reverse Line Blot (RLB) assays. Positive B. rossi specimens were tested for the presence of the BrEMA1gene using an RT-PCR. In addition, ticks were collected from dogs found to be infested during sampling.

RESULTS: On RLB, 72 (72%) of the specimens were positive for one or more haemoparasites. Of the positive specimens, 38 (53%) were infected with B. rossi; 9 (13%) with Theileria sp. (sable); 5 (7%) with either Ehrlichia canis or Anaplasma sp. Omatjenne, respectively; 3 (4%) with Theileria equi; and 1 (1%) with B. vogeli and E. ruminantium, respectively. Co-infections were detected in 13 (18%) of the specimens. Results of RT-PCR screening for the BrEMA1 gene were negative. A total of 146 ticks belonging to 8 species were collected and identified: Rhipicephalus sanguineus 107 (73%), Haemaphysalis leachi (sensu stricto) 27 (18%), R. turanicus 3 (2%), and Amblyomma variegatum, H. elliptica, R. lunulatus, R. muhsamae and R. senegalensis 1 (1%), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Up to 8 tick-borne pathogens possibly occur in the dog population at Jos, with B. rossi being the most prevalent. The absence of the BrEMA1 gene suggests that B. rossi occurring in that area may be less virulent than South African isolates.

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