Acta Parasitologica

, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 218–222 | Cite as

Detection of Theileria equi in spleen and blood of asymptomatic piroplasm carrier horses

  • Isabel B. Ribeiro
  • Antônio Carlos L. Câmara
  • Marta V. Bittencourt
  • Tatiana G. Marçola
  • Giane R. Paludo
  • Benito Soto-Blanco
Research Note


This study aimed to determine whether asymptomatic horses naturally infected with Theileria equi retain infected erythrocytes in the spleen and whether the presence of the hemoparasite in this organ is associated with parasitemia. We collected samples from 25 adult horses without clinical signs of any disease. From each animal, we collected whole blood samples from the jugular vein and a splenic puncture blood sample. All samples were submited to blood cell counts and detection of Theileria or Babesia. DNA extraction and PCR were performed in all samples for identification of piroplasm infection (T. equi and B. caballi). From the 25 horses evaluated for piroplasm detection by PCR, seven horses (28%) were positive in jugular vein blood but negative in splenic blood samples, five horses (20%) were positive in splenic blood samples but negative in jugular vein blood samples, and 13 horses (52%) were positive in both jugular vein and splenic blood samples. The hematological evaluation revealed anemia in 13 of 25 (52%) infected horses, lymphopenia in five (20%), neutrophilia in two (8%), neutropenia in one (4%), and thrombocytopenia in one (4%) infected horse. The present study demonstrated that several (20%) of the asymptomatic piroplasm carrier horses did not show parasitemia, but show infected erythrocytes in the spleen.


Theileria equi Babesia caballi hemoparasites piroplasm carrier parasitemia 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abutarbush S.M., Alqawasmeh D.M., Mukbel R.M., Al-Majali A.M. 2012. Equine babesiosis: seroprevalence, risk factors and comparison of different diagnostic methods in Jordan. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 59, 72–78. DOI: 10.1111/j.1865-1682.2011.01244.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alhassan A., Govind Y., Tam N.T., Thekisoe O.M.M., Yokoyama N., Inoue N., Igarashi I. 2007a. Comparative evaluation of the sensitivity of LAMP, PCR and in vitro culture methods for the diagnosis of equine piroplasmosis. Parasitology Research, 100, 1165–1168. DOI: DOI: 10.1007/s00436-006-0430-6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alhassan A., Iseki H., Kim C., Yokoyama N., Igarashi I. 2007b. Comparison of polymerase chain reaction methods for the detection of Theileria equi infection using whole blood compared with pre-extracted DNA samples as PCR templates. Tropical Animal Health and Production, 39, 369–374. DOI: 10.1007/s11250-007-9025-1.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alhassan A., Pumidonming W., Okamura M., Hirata H., Battsetseg B., Fujisaki K., Yokoyama N., Igarashi I. 2005. Development of a single-round and multiplex PCR method for the simultaneous detection of Babesia caballi and Babesia equi in horse blood. Veterinary Parasitology, 129, 43–49. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2004.12.018.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Allsopp M.T.E.P., Cavalier-Smith T., De Waal D.T., Allsopp B.A. 1994. Phylogeny and evolution of the piroplasms. Parasitology, 108, 147–152. DOI: 10.1017/S0031182000068232.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bashiruddin J., Camma C., Rebelo E. 1999. Molecular detection of Babesia equi and Babesia caballi in horse blood by PCR amplification of part of the 16S rRNA gene. Veterinary Parasitology, 84, 75–83. DOI: 10.1016/S0304-4017(99)00049-7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bhoora R., Franssen L., Oosthuizen M.C., Guthrie A.J., Zweygarth E., Penzhorn B.L., Jongejan F., Collins N.E. 2009. Sequence heterogeneity in the 18S rRNA gene within Theileria equi and Babesia caballi from horses in South Africa. Veterinary Parasitology, 159, 112–120. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2008.10.004.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Böse R., Jorgensen W.K., Dalgliesh R.J., Friedhoff K.T., deVos A.J. 1995. Current state and future trends in the diagnosis of babesiosis. Veterinary Parasitology, 57, 61–74. DOI: 10.1016/0304-4017(94)03111-9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Botteon P.T.L., Botteon R.C.C.M., Reis T.P., Massard C.L. 2005. Babesiose em cavalos atletas portadores. Ciência Animal, 35, 1136–1140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bruning E. 1996. Equine piroplasmosis: An update on diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. British Veterinary Journal, 152, 139–151. DOI: 10.1016/S0007-1935(96)80070-4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bulling A., Criado-Fornelio A., Asenzo G., Benitez D., Barba-Carretero J.C., Florin-Christensen M. 2007. A quantitative PCR assay for the detection and quantification of Babesia bovis and B. bigemina. Veterinary Parasitology, 147, 16–25. DOI:10.1016/j.vetpar.2007.03.031.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carcy B., Précigout E., Schetters T., Gorenflot A. 2006. Genetic basis for GPI-anchor merozoite surface antigen polymorphism of Babesia and resulting antigenic diversity. Veterinary Parasitology, 138, 33–49. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2006.01.038.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Costa V.M.M., Rodrigues A.L., Medeiros J.M.A., Labruna M.B., Simões S.V.D., Riet-Correa F.2011. Tristeza parasitária bovina no Sertão da Paraíba. Pesquisa Veterinária Brasileira, 31, 239–243 DOI: 10.1590/S0100-736X2011000300009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Criado-Fornelio A., Gónzalez-del-Río M.A., Buling-Saraña A., Barba-Carretero J.C. 2004. The “expanding universe” of piroplasms. Veterinary Parasitology, 119, 337–345. DOI:10.1016/j.vetpar.2003.11.015.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. De Waal D.T. 1992. Equine piroplasmosis: a review. British Veterinary Journal, 148, 6–14. DOI: 10.1016/0007-1935(92)90061-5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. De Waal D.T., Van Heerden J., Potgieter F.T. 1987. An investigation into the clinical pathological changes and serological response in horses experimentally infected with Babesia equi and Babesia caballi. Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research, 54, 561–568.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Friedhoff K.T., Soule C. 1996. An account on equine babesioses. OIE Revue Scientifique et Technique, 15, 1191–1201.Google Scholar
  18. Holbrook A.A. 1969. Biology of equine piroplasmosis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 155, 453–454.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Holman P.J., Hietala S.K., Kayashima L.R., Olson D., Waghela S.D., Wagner G.G. 1997. Case report: Field-acquired subclinical Babesia equi infection confirmed by in vitro culture. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 35, 474–476.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Kouam M.K., Kantzoura V., Masuoka P.M., Gajadhar A.A., Theodoropoulos G. 2010. Genetic diversity of equine piroplasms in Greece with a note on speciation within Theileria genotypes (T. equi and T. equi like). Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 10, 963–968. DOI: 10.1016/j.meegid.2010.06.008.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mehlhorn H., Schein E. 1998. Redescription of Babesia equi Laveran, 1901 as Theileria equi Mehlhorn, Schein 1998. Parasitology Research, 84, 467–475. DOI: 10.1007/s004360050431.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Oladosu L.A., Olufemi B.E. 1992. Haematology of experimental babesiosis and ehrlichiosis in steroid immunosuppressed horses. Journal of Veterinary Medicine Series B, 39, 345–352. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0450.1992.tb01179.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pitel P.H., Scrive T., Léon A. 2010. Molecular detection of Theileria equi and Babesia caballi in the bone marrow of asymptomatic horses. Veterinary Parasitology, 170, 182–184. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2010.01.043.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rampersad J., Cesa E., Campbell M.D., Samlal M., Ammons D. 2003. A field evaluation of PCR for the routine detection of Babesia equi in horses. Veterinary Parasitology, 114, 81–87. DOI: 10.1016/S0304-4017(03)00129-8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rhalem A., Sahibi H., Lasri S., Johnson W.C., Kappmeyer L.S., Hamidouch A., Knowles D.P., Goff W.L. 2001. Validation of a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for diagnosing Babesia equi infections of Moroccan origin and its use in determining the seroprevalence of B. equi in Morocco. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, 13, 249–251. DOI: 10.1177/104063870101300311.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Salim B., Bakheit M.A., Kamau J., Nakamura I., Sugimoto C. 2010. Nucleotide sequence heterogeneity in the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene within Theileria equi from horses in Sudan. Parasitology Research, 106, 493–498. DOI: 10.1007/s00436-009-1691-7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schein E. 1988. Equine babesiosis. In: (Ed. M. Ristic) Babesiosis of Domestic Animals and Man. CRC Press, Boca Raton, 197–208.Google Scholar
  28. Schetters T.P.M., Kleuskens J., Scholtes N., Gorenflot A. 1998. Parasite localization and dissemination in the Babesia-infected host. Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, 92, 513–519. DOI: 10.1080/00034989859483.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Seifi H.A., Mohri M., Sardari K.A. 2000. Mixed infection of Babesia equi and Babesia caballi in a racing colt: A report from Iran. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 20, 858–860. DOI:10.1016/S0737-0806(00)80117-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Versita Warsaw and Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel B. Ribeiro
    • 1
  • Antônio Carlos L. Câmara
    • 1
  • Marta V. Bittencourt
    • 2
  • Tatiana G. Marçola
    • 2
  • Giane R. Paludo
    • 2
  • Benito Soto-Blanco
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciência AnimalUniversidade Federal Rural do Semi-árido (UFERSA)MossoróBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Patologia Clínica Veterinária, Faculdade de Agronomia e Medicina VeterináriaUniversidade de Brasília (UnB), Campus Universitário Darcy Ribeiro, ICC SulAsa Norte, BrasíliaBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Clínica e Cirurgia Veterinárias, Escola de VeterináriaUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

Personalised recommendations