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      Screening for Hepatozoon parasites in gerbils and potential predators in South Africa


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          Samples of gerbils and their potential predators were screened for the presence of Hepatozoon parasites (Apicomplexa: Adeleorina) using both microscopic examination and sequencing of partial 18S rRNA sequences. Positive samples were compared to published sequences in a phylogenetic framework. The results indicate that genets can be infected with Hepatozoon felis. A Cape fox was infected with Hepatozoon canis, whereas the sequence from an infected rodent fell within a group of parasites primarily recovered from other rodents and snakes.

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          Perspectives on canine and feline hepatozoonosis.

           Gad Baneth (2011)
          Two species of Hepatozoon are currently known to infect dogs and cause distinct diseases. Hepatozoon canis prevalent in Africa, Asia, southern Europe, South America and recently shown to be present also in the USA causes infection mainly of hemolymphoid organs, whereas Hepatozoon americanum prevalent in the southeastern USA causes myositis and severe lameness. H. americanum is transmitted by ingestion of the Gulf Coast tick Amblyomma maculatum and also by predation on infected prey. H. canis is transmitted by Rhipicephalus sanguineus, in South America also by Amblyomma ovale, and has also been shown to be transmitted transplacentally. Hepatozoonosis of domestic cats has been described mostly from the same areas where canine infection is present and the exact identity of the species which infect cats, their pathogenicity and vectors have not been elucidated. The diagnosis of hepatozoonosis is made by observation of gamonts in blood smears, histopathology, PCR or serology. The main treatment for H. canis is with imidocarb dipropionate whereas H. americanum infection is treated with an initial combination of trimethoprim-sulfadiazine, pyrimethamine and clindamycin followed by maintenance with decoquinate. Treatment for both diseases has not been reported to facilitate complete parasite elimination and new effective drugs are needed for the management of these infections. Prevention of hepatozoonosis should be based on avoidance of oral ingestion of infected tick vectors and infected prey. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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            High prevalence of Hepatozoon spp. (Apicomplexa, Hepatozoidae) infection in water pythons (Liasis fuscus) from tropical Australia.

            Molecular methods were used to identify blood parasites frequently observed in blood smears of water pythons (Liasis fuscus) captured in our study area in the Northern Territory of Australia. A nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers amplifying the 18s ribosomal RNA (rRNA) nuclear gene resulted in a short PCR product (180 bp) matching this region in the genus Hepatozoon. However, because of the short sequence obtained. 2 new primers were designed based on 18s rRNA sequences of 3 Hepatozoon taxa available in GenBank. Using these primers, approximately 600 bp of the parasite's 18s rRNA gene was amplified successfully and sequenced from 2 water python samples. The new primers were used to investigate the prevalence of blood parasites in 100 pythons. In 25 of these samples we did not observe any blood parasites when examining stained slides. All the samples revealed a 600-bp PCR product, demonstrating that pythons in which we did not visually observe any parasites were infected by Hepatozoon spp. We also analyzed the nucleotide sequences of blood parasites in 4 other reptile taxa commonly encountered in our study area. The sequences obtained from water pythons and from 1 of these taxa were identical, suggesting that the parasite is capable of infecting hosts at different taxonomic levels.
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              Prevalence and diversity of Babesia, Hepatozoon, Ehrlichia, and Bartonella in wild and domestic carnivores from Zambia, Africa.

              A molecular survey was conducted for several hemoparasites of domestic dogs and three species of wild carnivores from two sites in Zambia. Three Babesia spp. were detected including Babesia felis and Babesia leo in lions (Panthera leo) and a Babesia sp. (similar to Babesia lengau) in spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) and a single lion. All wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) and domestic dogs were negative for Babesia. High prevalences for Hepatozoon were noted in all three wild carnivores (38-61%) and in domestic dogs (13%). Significantly higher prevalences were noted in hyenas and wild dogs compared with domestic dogs and lions. All carnivores were PCR negative for Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia ewingii, and Bartonella spp. Overall, high prevalences and diversity of Babesia and Hepatozoon were noted in wild carnivores from Zambia. This study is the first molecular characterization of Babesia from any hyena species and is the first report of a Babesia sp. closely related to B. lengau, a parasite previously only reported from cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), in lions and hyenas. Although usually benign in wild carnivores, these hemoparasites can be pathogenic under certain circumstances. Importantly, data on vectors for these parasites are lacking, so studies are needed to identify vectors as well as determine transmission routes, infection dynamics, and host specificity of these hemoparasites in wildlife in Africa and also the risk of transmission between domestic animals and wildlife.

                Author and article information

                J S Afr Vet Assoc
                J S Afr Vet Assoc
                Journal of the South African Veterinary Association
                08 February 2017
                : 88
                [1 ]Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade do Porto, Portugal
                [2 ]Department of Biodiversity, University of Limpopo, South Africa
                Author notes
                Corresponding author: James Harris, james@ 123456cibio.up.pt
                © 2017. The Authors

                Licensee: AOSIS. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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