, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 279-291

Detection of Theileria annulata by the PCR in ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) collected from cattle in Mauritania

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Abstract

We report on the detection of Theileria annulata in infected Hyalomma ticks by the PCR using primers derived from the gene encoding the 30 kDa major merozoite surface antigen (Tams1–1). No inhibition of the PCR was observed and as little as 0.1 pg of parasite DNA, corresponding to 12 sporozoites, could be detected in non-infected tick DNA samples, spiked with T. annulata genomic DNA. Hyalomma dromedarii ticks, fed on a calf experimentally infected with T. annulata, were used to validate the PCR further. The infection rate in the adult ticks, fed as nymphs during the febrile reaction, was high (62%), dropped to zero for 1 day in tick batches that engorged after treatment with ButalexTM and increased to 30% 2 days later and 38% of the ticks acquired the infection after feeding as nymphs during a carrier state piroplasm parasitaemia of less than 0.1%. As an internal control, 16S tick rDNA sequences could be amplified from T. annulata-negative tick samples. Finally, 202 adult ticks from Mauritania, collected from zebu cattle carrying low levels of Theileria piroplasms, were tested by the PCR. Thirty-eight out of 52 (73%) and 17 out of 30 (57%) H. dromedarii from the Gorgol and Trarza regions, respectively and two out of 30 (7%) Hyalomma marginatum rufipes from the Gorgol region were positive. Hyalomma marginatum rufipes, Rhipicephalus evertsi evertsi and Rhipicephalus guilhoni from the Trarza region were negative. These findings confirm that H. dromedarii is the main vector of T. annulata in Mauritania and that the PCR is a useful method of determining the infection rates in ticks collected from cattle carrying low levels of T. annulata piroplasms.