Prevalence of Ehrlichia-, Babesia-, and Hepatozoon-infected brown dog ticks in Khon Kaen Province, Northeast Thailand

Vet World. 2022 Jul;15(7):1699-1705. doi: 10.14202/vetworld.2022.1699-1705. Epub 2022 Jul 20.


Background and aim: The brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato, is the most common tick found on domestic dogs in Southeast Asia, including Thailand. Canine tick-borne pathogens are a public health concern worldwide. Tick-borne diseases are diagnosed by identifying pathogens based on the morphological or molecular analyses of dog blood samples. However, the collection of ticks, a non-invasive procedure, is easier than drawing blood. This study aimed to demonstrate the usefulness of collecting brown dog ticks for the diagnosis of tick-borne diseases and for estimating the prevalence of tick-borne pathogens among companion dogs in Khon Kaen, Northeast Thailand.

Materials and methods: Seventy brown dog ticks from 70 companion dogs in Khon Kaen Province, Thailand, were evaluated for molecular evidence of tick-borne pathogens, including Babesia spp., Ehrlichia canis, and Hepatozoon canis. Ticks were collected from dogs at a private animal hospital based on the presence of at least one of the three inclusion criteria: fever, anorexia, or lethargy. Molecular diagnosis was performed using conventional polymerase chain reaction for the detection of pathogens.

Results: Of the 70 ticks collected from 70 sick dogs, 55 (78.57%) were positive for tick-borne pathogens. The most common infection was a single infection with H. canis (65.71%) followed by Babesia spp. (31.43%) and E. canis (30.00%). Coinfection was observed in 14 ticks (20.00%), and coinfection with Babesia spp. and E. canis was the most prevalent double infection (n = 6). The prevalence of coinfection was identical for H. canis mixed with Babesia spp. and H. canis mixed with E. canis (n = 4).

Conclusion: The present study showed that tick-borne pathogens are highly prevalent among companion dogs in Khon Kaen Province. Therefore, we encourage an increase in tick control or the reduction and prevention of tick-borne diseases in this region. Furthermore, this study revealed that ticks are valuable samples for the molecular detection of tick-borne pathogens.

Keywords: Rhipicephalus sanguineus; brown dog tick; tick-borne diseases; tick-borne pathogens.