Molecular Detection and Assessment of Risk Factors for Tick-Borne Diseases in Sheep and Goats from Turkey



Tick-borne diseases mainly, theileriosis, babesiosis and anaplasmosis cause significant economic losses in livestock globally, including Turkey. The tick-borne pathogens of small ruminants in Turkey have been studied widely but information on molecular characterization and disease occurrence is still limited.


In this study, both microscopy and molecular detection and characterization for Theileria spp. Babesia ovis, Anaplasma ovis and Anaplasma phagocytophilum was conducted. A total of 133 blood samples of tick-infested small ruminants (105 sheep and 28 goats) were collected from Turkey: half of the animals had clinical signs of tick-borne disease infections.


Using PCR assays and microscopy, 90.2% and 45.1% of the samples were positive for at least one pathogen, respectively. Overall, the infection rates of A. phagocytophilum, B. ovis, A. ovis, Theileria spp. were 66.7%, 62.4%, 46.6% and 7.0%, respectively. Fifty-nine of the 133 (44.4%) samples were co-infected with two or more pathogens. Sex, season and B. ovis positivity were significant risk factors for occurrence of clinical disease. Sequence and phylogenetic analysis based on B. ovis 18S small subunit rRNA, A. ovis major surface protein 4, Theileria spp. 18S rRNA and A. phagocytophilum 16S rRNA genes showed that the isolates in this study clustered together in well-supported clades with those previously collected from Turkey and other countries.


The study shows B. ovis as the most significant pathogen associated with clinical and fatal cases in small ruminants from Turkey. Female sex and summer season are associated with increased risk of the disease. This study shows high infection rates with the pathogens among small ruminants including A. phagocytophilum which has veterinary and public health importance.

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The authors would like to thank all the people who were involved in making this study a success. This study was supported by Grant-in-Aid from Scientific Research (18kk0188) from Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Core-to-Core Program.

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Correspondence to Ferda Sevinc or Xuenan Xuan.

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Benedicto, B., Ceylan, O., Moumouni, P.F.A. et al. Molecular Detection and Assessment of Risk Factors for Tick-Borne Diseases in Sheep and Goats from Turkey. Acta Parasit. 65, 723–732 (2020).

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  • Tick-borne pathogens
  • Clinical disease
  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Turkey