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BMC Vet Res. 2012; 8: 55.
Published online May 14, 2012. doi:  10.1186/1746-6148-8-55
PMCID: PMC3489665
Haemoparasites of free-roaming dogs associated with several remote Aboriginal communities in Australia
Emily N Barker,corresponding author1 Debra A Langton,1 Chris R Helps,2 Graeme Brown,3 Richard Malik,4 Susan E Shaw,1 and Séverine Tasker1
1School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK
2Langford Veterinary Services, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK
3Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney,, B14, NSW, Sydney 2006, Australia
4Centre for Veterinary Education, University of Sydney, Sydney, B22, NSW 2006, Australia
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Emily N Barker: emi.barker/at/bristol.ac.uk; Debra A Langton: d.a.langton/at/bristol.ac.uk; Chris R Helps: c.r.helps/at/bristol.ac.uk; Graeme Brown: graeme.brown/at/sydney.edu.au; Richard Malik: richard.malik/at/sydney.edu.au; Susan E Shaw: s.shaw383/at/btinternet.com; Séverine Tasker: s.tasker/at/bristol.ac.uk
Received December 1, 2011; Accepted April 17, 2012.
Abstract
Background
Tick-borne haemoparasites Babesia vogeli and Anaplasma platys are common among the free-roaming canine populations associated with Aboriginal communities in Australia, whilst the prevalence of haemoplasmas, which are also suspected to be tick-borne, remained unexplored. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of haemoplasma infection in these populations, and to identify any correlation with other haemoparasites. Blood was collected from 39 dogs associated with four Aboriginal communities and screened for infection using PCR and serology. DNA was purified and PCR analyses for piroplasms, Anaplasmataceae family bacteria and haemoplasmas performed. Serum was analysed using a commercial haemoparasite ELISA. Prevalence of infection was compared between communities.
Results
Seventeen dogs (44%) were infected (PCR positive) with Mycoplasma haemocanis, eight (21%) with ‘Candidatus Mycoplasma haematoparvum’, 20 (51%) with A. platys, and 17 (44%) with B. vogeli. Two dogs were infected with a novel haemoplasma as determined by DNA amplification and sequencing. Two dogs (5%) were serologically positive for Dirofilaria immitis antigens, one (3%) was positive for Ehrlichia canis antibodies and nine (24nbsp;%) were positive for A. platys antibodies. Co-infections were frequent. Haemoplasma prevalence was highest (73%, 16/22) in Central Australia and lowest (22%, 2/9) in Western Australia (p = 0.017). In contrast, B. vogeli prevalence was low in Central Australia (18%, 4/22) but higher (78%, 7/9) in Western Australia (p = 0.003).
Conclusions
This is the first time haemoplasma infections, including a novel species, have been molecularly documented in Australian dogs. The wide regional variation in prevalence of some of the haemoparasite infections detected in this study warrants further investigation.
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