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Autochthonous Hepatozoon infection in hunting dogs and foxes from the Czech Republic

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Blood samples from 21 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and 8 hunting dogs from the same locality in the Czech Republic were examined for presence of Hepatozoon canis/Hepatozoon sp. The dogs were selected based on their close contact with foxes during fox bolting and because they had not traveled into known endemic areas. Using diagnostic PCR amplifying partial 18S rDNA fragment, Hepatozoon DNA was detected in 20 red foxes (95 %) and 4 dogs (50 %). From 8 positive foxes and 2 positive dogs, we obtained nearly complete 18S rDNA sequences. Phylogenetic analyses of these sequences revealed very low variability. Buffy coat smears from positive dogs were prepared and examined. No Hepatozoon gamonts were found. This study provides the first report of autochthonous infection of H. canis/Hepatozoon in dogs and foxes from the Czech Republic. Our study indirectly demonstrates cross infection between red foxes and dogs and confirms autochthonous infection of Hepatozoon canis in dogs living in a geographic area well outside the range of Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato, which is so far the only known vector of H. canis in Europe.

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The study was conducted under EurNegVec COST Action TD1303 and financially supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, projects CEITEC 2020 (LQ1601), COST CZ LD14048, and by Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding, project PCE 236/2011.

KH was supported by project LO1218 with financial support from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic under the NPU I program. We acknowledge a grant for the development of research organization (RVO: RO0516).

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Correspondence to Barbora Mitková.

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Mitková, B., Hrazdilová, K., Steinbauer, V. et al. Autochthonous Hepatozoon infection in hunting dogs and foxes from the Czech Republic. Parasitol Res 115, 4167–4171 (2016).

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