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Seroprevalence ofBabesia caballiandTheileria equiin the Swiss horse population

Parasitology International
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.parint.2010.02.005
  • Theileria Equi
  • Babesia Caballi
  • Equine Piroplasmosis
  • Indirect Fluorescent Antibody Test (Ifat)
  • Horse
  • Switzerland
  • Medicine


Abstract In Switzerland, the prevalence and incidence of equine piroplasma parasite (EPP) infections are unknown. In order to obtain a first insight into the prevalence, a representative sample of 689 sera of horses from Switzerland was serologically tested for the presence of antibodies directed against T. equi and B. caballi using the Indirect Fluorescence Antibody Test (IFAT). A total of 50 (7.3%) horses were seropositive for EPP: overall, the seroprevalence of T. equi was significantly higher than that of B. caballi ( p = 0.002). The seropositivities in indigenous horses (animals bred and raised in Switzerland) and in imported horses were 4.8% (11/230) and 8.5% (39/459), respectively. Unlike in indigenous horses, where no significant difference in seroprevalences could be observed between the two parasite species, the seroprevalence of T. equi was significantly higher ( p < 0.001) than that of B. caballi in imported horses. Horses imported from France, Spain and Portugal exhibited a significantly higher seroprevalence, and horses imported from Germany a significantly lower seroprevalence of EPP compared to indigenous horses. There were no associations between sex, age, weight loss, surgery or blood transfusions with T. equi and B. caballi seroprevalences. The overall seroprevalence of 7.3% clearly shows that infection with EPP is a threat to the health of the horses in Switzerland. With the presumed expansion of permissive tick vectors, EPP infections will potentially increase in importance in the future. Therefore, continuous monitoring is mandatory.

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