Wild cervids are host for tick vectors of Babesia species with zoonotic capability in Belgium

Lempereur, L., Wirtgen, M., Nahayo, A., Caron, Y., Shiels, B. , Saegerman, C., Losson, B. and Linden, A. (2012) Wild cervids are host for tick vectors of Babesia species with zoonotic capability in Belgium. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, 12(4), pp. 275-280. (doi:10.1089/vbz.2011.0722) (PMID:22214270) (PMCID:PMC3319931)

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Babesiosis is a tick-borne disease caused by different species of intraerythrocytic protozoan parasites within the genus Babesia. Different species of Babesia are described as potentially zoonotic and cause a malaria-like disease mainly in immunocompromised humans. Interest in the zoonotic potential of Babesia is growing and babesiosis has been described by some authors as an emergent zoonotic disease. The role of cervids to maintain tick populations and act as a reservoir host for some Babesia spp. with zoonotic capability is suspected. To investigate the range and infection rate of Babesia species, ticks were collected from wild cervids in southern Belgium during 2008. DNA extraction was performed for individual ticks, and each sample was evaluated for the absence of PCR inhibition using a PCR test. A Babesia spp. genus-specific PCR based on the 18S rRNA gene was applied to validated tick DNA extracts. A total of 1044 Ixodes ricinus ticks were collected and 1023 validated samples were subsequently screened for the presence of Babesia spp. DNA. Twenty-eight tick samples were found to be positive and identified after sequencing as containing DNA representing: Babesia divergens (3), B. divergens-like (5), Babesia sp. EU1 (11), Babesia sp. EU1-like (3), B. capreoli (2), or unknown Babesia sp. (4). This study confirms the presence of potentially zoonotic species and Babesia capreoli in Belgium, with a tick infection rate of 2.7% (95% CI 1.8,3.9%). Knowledge of the most common reservoir source for transmission of zoonotic Babesia spp. will be useful for models assessing the risk potential of this infection to humans.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Shiels, Professor Brian and Lempereur, Dr Laetitia
Authors: Lempereur, L., Wirtgen, M., Nahayo, A., Caron, Y., Shiels, B., Saegerman, C., Losson, B., and Linden, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
Journal Name:Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Published Online:03 January 2012

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
531961POSTICK - Post-graduate training network for capacity building to control ticks and tick-borne diseasesBrian ShielsEuropean Commission (EC)238511 POSTICKInfection Immunity and Inflammation Life Sciences