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The occurrence of tick-borne pathogens, in dogs in welfare organisations and townships of Cape Town

In impoverished and resource limited communities such as townships, and welfare organizations, areas such as living and sleeping spaces are sometimes shared with animals, and occasionally humans. Dogs play an integral role in our lives and have become part of the family. Therefore, it is probable that ectoparasites, such as ticks, that feed on dogs also feed on other vertebrates, thereby, transmitting pathogens. The primary aim of this study was to screen for the presence of tick-borne pathogens in dogs from welfare organisations and townships in Cape Town, with special focus on Ehrlichia and Babesia spp. The reason for this choice of subject is due to the fact that very few tick-borne infection studies have focused on resource limited communities. Furthermore, welfare organisations have continuously attracted awareness due to the amount of unrestricted work performed by veterinarians in communities with limited resources. Consequently, the topic was borne. A total of 126 blood samples and 509 ticks (adults and nymphs) were collected directly from dogs from four welfare organisations and two townships in Cape Town. Samples were collected from April to July 2014. The four welfare organisations where samples were collected included the Animal Anti Cruelty League welfare organisations in Epping and Bellville, the Lucky Lucy Foundation in Joostenberg Vlakte and The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS), located in the Sunnydale area. Samples were also collected from the Asanda village and Nomzamo, two townships located just outside the Cape Town suburb, the Strand. DNA was extracted from blood and ectoparasites and screened for the presence of Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Theileria and Babesia species infections using touchdown PCR and RLB hybridization assays. Genus and species-specific probes were used during hybridization in order to identify specific parasite infections in the blood samples and the tick samples pooled according to geographical origin and species. Forty six (36.5%) of the blood samples tested positive for tick-borne pathogen DNA. Of the positive blood samples, 17 (13.5%) were infected with Ehrlichia canis; 16 (12.7%) with Babesia rossi and four (3.2%) samples were infected with Babesia vogeli. Incidental infections were also detected, these included Ehrlichia ruminantium (n=6, [4.7%]), Theileria taurotragi (n=2, [1.6%]) and Anaplasma sp. Omatjenne (n=1, [0.8%]) infections. DNA detected from 10 samples (7.94%) hybridized only to the Ehrlichia/Anaplasma genus-specific probes and four samples (3.17%) hybridized only to the Theileria/Babesia genus-specific probes. None of these 14 samples hybridized to any of the species-specific probes. Collected Rhipicephalus sanguineus (n=457) and Haemaphysalis elliptica (n=52) ticks were grouped into 15 pools, representing both tick species according to specific collection locations. Since only two H. elliptica from Asanda and one R. sanguineus from TEARS were collected, these ticks were mixed in pools of the dominant species as they were too few for DNA extraction. Ticks were collected from the Nomzamo Township (R. sanguineus n=400), Asanda village (H. elliptica n=2; R. sanguineus n=42), TEARS (H. elliptica n=21; R. sanguineus n=1), and the Animal Anti Cruelty League in both Epping (R. sanguineus n=14), and Bellville (H. elliptica n=29), in Cape Town. Analysis by the RLB assay showed that 11 (73.3%) of the 15 tick pools representing both tick species were positive for at least one parasite species. All positive samples hybridized with the Ehrlichia/Anaplasma genus-specific probe. Three (20%) tick pools containing both tick species tested positive for Ehrlichia canis infection, two (13.3%) tested positive for Babesia rossi and Babesia vogeli DNA was identified in one (6.6%) tick pool. The Theileria/Babesia genus-specific probe hybridised in three (20%) tick pools. These three pools were comprised of both R. sanguineus and H. elliptica tick species. These tick pools also tested positive for a specific Babesia tick-borne pathogen. Tick-borne pathogen DNA could not be detected in four (26.6%) tick pools. The fore-mentioned tick-borne pathogen DNA detected in the dog blood samples, and the ectoparasites collected from the same dogs during this study, suggests that dogs play a large role in the endemicity of these pathogens / Environmental Sciences / M. Sc. (Life Science)
Date02 1900
CreatorsAllan, Rosalind Elizabeth
ContributorsMatjila, P. T., Sibeko-Matjila, K. P.
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish
Format1 online resource (xiii, 61 leaves) : color illustrations, color map

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