Molecular detection of tick-borne pathogens in cattle from Southwestern Ethiopia

PLoS One. 2017 Nov 20;12(11):e0188248. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188248. eCollection 2017.


Tick-borne diseases (TBDs) cause significant losses among livestock and impact the livelihoods of resource-poor farming communities worldwide. In Ethiopia, detailed studies on the epidemiology of tick-borne pathogens (TBPs) in cattle using sensitive molecular detection methods are scarce. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence and species composition of bovine TBPs of veterinary significance in local cattle populations. A comprehensive cross-sectional epidemiological study was conducted in cattle populations of Illubabor zone in Southwestern Ethiopia from June to August 2013. For this purpose, blood samples were collected from 392 cattle. A combination of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and a Reverse Line Blot (RLB) hybridization assay was employed for the detection of TBPs in these samples. The PCR/RLB results of the 392 blood samples indicated a high overall prevalence of 96.9% for TBPs, including Theileria mutans (66.1%), Theileria orientalis (51.8%), Anaplasma sp. Omatjenne (25.5%), Anaplasma marginale (14.5%), Babesia bigemina (14.0%) and Theileria velifera (13.0%) and minor occurrences of Ehrlichia ruminantium (0.5%) and Ehrlichia minasensis (0.26%). Moreover, three novel Anaplasma genotypes were detected in bovine blood samples. A phylogenetic analysis revealed that they most likely represent three, but at least two, new species. The prevalence of the three novel Anaplasma species, preliminary designated as Anaplasma sp. Hadesa, Anaplasma sp. Saso and Anaplasma sp. Dedessa, was 12.5%, 14.3% and 5.6%, respectively. Overall, a total of 227 cattle (57.9%) were found to be co-infected with two or more TBPs simultaneously and 86 different species combinations were observed. The findings show a very high burden of infection of cattle with TBPs in Ethiopia. The high frequency of co-infections suggests that clinical manifestations might be complex. Further research is required to determine the pathogenicity, host cell types and vector of the three novel Anaplasma species identified in this study.

MeSH terms

  • Anaplasma / classification
  • Anaplasma / genetics
  • Anaplasma / isolation & purification
  • Anaplasmosis / epidemiology*
  • Anaplasmosis / microbiology
  • Animals
  • Arachnid Vectors / microbiology
  • Arachnid Vectors / parasitology
  • Babesia / classification
  • Babesia / genetics
  • Babesia / isolation & purification
  • Babesiosis / epidemiology*
  • Babesiosis / parasitology
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cattle Diseases / microbiology
  • Cattle Diseases / parasitology
  • Coinfection
  • Ehrlichia / classification
  • Ehrlichia / genetics
  • Ehrlichia / isolation & purification
  • Ehrlichiosis / epidemiology*
  • Ehrlichiosis / microbiology
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Male
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Molecular Typing
  • Phylogeny
  • Theileria / classification
  • Theileria / genetics
  • Theileria / isolation & purification
  • Theileriasis / epidemiology*
  • Theileriasis / parasitology
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / epidemiology
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / microbiology
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / parasitology
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / veterinary*
  • Ticks / microbiology
  • Ticks / parasitology

Grant support

This work was financially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) project AH 41/7-1 and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.