Apicomplexan parasites of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in northeastern Poland
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Molecular detection of apicomplexan parasites in splenic samples of red foxes collected from northeastern Poland was conducted by PCR amplification of a fragment of the 18S rRNA spanning the V4 gene region of Apicomplexa. Positive PCR products were further analysed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and sequencing to identify species. One hundred and eleven red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were acquired from 15 localities in the Mazovian Province and 27 foxes were acquired from the Mazurian Lakeland. Apicomplexan 18S rDNA was detected in 15.9% of 138 fox spleens examined. Three apicomplexan species were identified: Hepatozoon canis was detected in 11.6% of the spleen samples, Toxoplasma gondii was detected in 3.6% of the spleen samples and a Babesia sp. was sequenced from 1 sample (0.7%). This data represent the first record of H. canis, T. gondii and a B. sp. from naturally infected red foxes in Poland. Infected foxes may act as sylvatic reservoirs of these apicomplexan parasites as well as serving as a source of infection for arthropod definitive hosts and vectors.
KeywordsBabesia sp. Hepatozoon canis Toxoplasma gondii molecular analysis Vulpes vulpes
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