Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Animal Disease Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #382040

Research Project: Development of Detection and Control Strategies for Bovine Babesiosis and Equine Piroplasmosis

Location: Animal Disease Research

Title: Molecular and serological detection of piroplasms in horses from Nigerian

item IDOKO, IDOKO - University Of Abuja
item EDAH, RICHARD - University Of Jos
item ADAMU, ANDREW - University Of Abuja
item MACHUNGA-MAMBULA, SALAMATU - University Of Abuja
item OKUBANJO, OLUYINKA - Ahmadu Bello University
item BALOGUN, EMMANUEL - Ahmadu Bello University
item ADAMU, SANI - Ahmadu Bello University
item Johnson, Wendell
item Kappmeyer, Lowell
item Mousel, Michelle
item Ueti, Massaro

Submitted to: Pathogens
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/21/2021
Publication Date: 4/23/2021
Citation: Idoko, I.S., Edah, R.E., Adamu, A.M., Machunga-Mambula, S., Okubanjo, O.O., Balogun, E.O., Adamu, S., Johnson, W.C., Kappmeyer, L.S., Mousel, M.R., Ueti, M.W. 2021. Molecular and serological detection of piroplasms in horses from Nigerian. Pathogens. 10(5). Article 508.

Interpretive Summary: Infection by any of three species of single-cell parasites of horses cause a disease known as equine piroplasmosis with serious economic impact. The parasites, with scientific names Theileria equi, Theileria haneyi and Babesia caballi, have a worldwide distribution, though nations attempt to control spread of disease by limiting movement of infected horses. Diagnostic tests may either detect DNA of the parasite in the horse blood (molecular detection), or detect antibodies in the blood of the horse (serological detection). We tested the idea that a combination of both molecular and serological detection would best reveal animals exposed to the parasites in Nigeria. The horses tested had clinical signs of infection, and red blood cell parameters were checked to associate disease status with test outcome. Additionally, these parasites are transmitted to horses by ticks. As such, ticks were collected from tested horses and identified, to also associate tick species with horse exposure to the parasites. The results indicate that horses with red blood cell parameters reflecting disease infection were infected with the parasite Theileria equi.

Technical Abstract: Equine piroplasmosis, an economically important disease of equids caused by the hemoprotozoan parasites Theileria equi, T. haneyi and Babesia caballi, has a worldwide distribution. These parasites are transmitted by ixodid ticks. To understand if the native and imported horse populations in Nigeria are exposed to these parasites, 72 horses with variable clinical signs of piroplasmosis were sampled from northwest and northcentral Nigeria. Blood and serum samples were collected from each horse via jugular venesection. Combining species-specific nPCR primers and the OIE approved T. equi and B. caballi cELISA were employed to determine horse exposure to the parasites. The results demonstrated horses showing RBC count, PCV and hemoglobin below the normal range were positive for only T. equi with exception of one sample that was coinfected with T. equi and T. haneyi. We also identified ticks collected from some of the horses, with Rhipicephalus evertsi evertsi being the most found. This study shows that a larger proportion of horses in the sample set were exposed to T. equi as compared to B. caballi and T. haneyi. In addition, ticks that have been previously reported as potential vectors for these parasites were found infesting sampled horses. Further studies are needed to investigate which tick species are competent vectors for Theileria spp. and Babesia caballi in Nigeria.