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Genetic characterization and molecular survey of Babesia sp. Xinjiang infection in small ruminants and ixodid ticks in China

Niu, Qingli, Liu, Zhijie, Yang, Jifei, Gao, Shandian, Pan, Yuping, Guan, Guiquan, Luo, Jianxun, Yin, Hong
Infection, genetics, and evolution 2017 v.49 pp. 330-335
Babesia, Hyalomma anatolicum, blood, blood sampling, disease vectors, genes, goats, pathogenicity, polymerase chain reaction, sequence analysis, sheep, surveys, ticks, vegetation, China
Babesia sp. Xinjiang is a large ovine Babesia species that was recently isolated in China. Compared with other ovine Babesia species, it has different morphological features, pathogenicity and vector tick species. The known transmitting vector is Hyalomma anatolicum. In this study, the distribution and the presence of Babesia sp. Xinjiang in small ruminants and ixodid ticks in China were assessed by specific nested-PCR assay based on the rap-1a gene. A total of 978 blood samples from sheep or goats from 15 provinces and 797 tick specimens from vegetation from 10 provinces were collected and analysed for the presence of the Babesia sp. Xinjiang. Full-length and partial rap-1a of Babesia sp. Xinjiang were amplified from field samples. The PCR results were further confirmed by DNA sequencing. Overall, 38 (3.89%) blood samples and 51 (6.4%) tick samples were positive for Babesia sp. Xinjiang infection. The highest presence (26.92%) was found in blood samples from Yunnan province, while H. qinghaiensis ticks with the highest presence of infection (21.3%) were from Gansu province. This study identified for the first time Babesia sp. Xinjiang infection in H. longicornis tick species. The rap-1a sequences of Babesia sp. Xinjiang from field blood and tick samples indicated 100% identity. The presence of Babesia sp. Xinjiang infection may increase in China. Novel potential transmitting vectors might be more extensive than previously thought.