Anaplasma phagocytophilum in horses and ticks in Tunisia
1 Laboratoire d’épidémiologie et microbiologie vétérinaire, service d’entomologie médicale, Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Tunis, 1002, Tunisia
2 Université Tunis El-Manar, Tunis, Tunisia
3 Service pathologie médicale des équidés et des carnivores, Ecole nationale de medicine vétérinaire de Sidi Thabet, Tunis, 2002, Tunisia
4 Université de la Manouba, Manouba, Tunisia
Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:180 doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-180Published: 30 August 2012
Anaplasma phagocytophilum , the causative agent of granulocytic anaplasmosis, affects several species of wild and domesticated mammals, including horses. We used direct and indirect methods to compare and evaluate exposure to A. phagocytophilum in horses in northern Tunisia.
Serum from 60 horses was tested by IFA for antibodies to A. phagocytophilum , and whole blood was tested for A. phagocytophilum 16S rRNA gene using a nested-PCR. To examine the risk of A. phagocytophilum transmission, 154 ticks that had been collected from horses were examined for the presence of A. phagocytophilum by nested-PCR targeting 16S rRNA gene.
This is the first time that A. phagocytophilum has been detected in horses in Tunisia, with an overall seroprevalence of 40/60 (67%). Six of the seroreactive samples (10%) had an IFA titer of 1:80, 14 (23%) of 1:160, 8 (13%) of 1:320 and 12 (20%) a titer 1 ≥ 640. The seroprevalence revealed no significant regional and sex differences. In contrast, a significant difference was observed between breeds. Eight (13%) of the horses were positive for A. phagocytophilum in the PCR, with no significant breed and age differences. Hyalomma marginatum was a predominant tick species (130/154), and 3 were infected by A. phagocytophilum (a prevalence of 2.3%). The concordance rate of A. phagocytophilum detection between IFA and PCR had a k value of −0.07.
The results presented in this study suggest that horses infested by ticks in Tunisia are exposed to A. phagocytophilum.