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First survey of ticks, tick-borne pathogens (Theileria, Babesia, Anaplasma and Ehrlichia) and Trypanosoma evansi in protected areas for threatened wild ruminants in Tunisia.

  • Said, Yousra1
  • Lahmar, Samia2
  • Dhibi, Mokhtar2
  • Rjeibi, Mohamed Ridha3
  • Jdidi, Mohamed2
  • Gharbi, Mohamed2
  • 1 Faculty of Sciences of Bizerte, University of Carthage, 21 Jarzouna, Tunisia; Parasitology Laboratory, National School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Manouba, 2020 Sidi Thabet, Tunisia. Electronic address: [email protected] , (Tunisia)
  • 2 Parasitology Laboratory, National School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Manouba, 2020 Sidi Thabet, Tunisia. , (Tunisia)
  • 3 Laboratory of Parasitology, Institute for Veterinary Research of Tunisia, Tunisia. , (Tunisia)
Published Article
Parasitology international
Publication Date
Dec 25, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.parint.2020.102275
PMID: 33348021


The aim of the study was to identify ticks present in the environment and wild Tunisian ruminants and to detect tick-borne pathogens and Trypanosoma evansi DNA in these specimens. Sampling was done throughout each season from the environment in three protected areas around Tunisia: El Feidja, Haddaj and Oued Dekouk. Ticks were collected also, from one fawn of Barbary red deer and eight naturally deceased wild ruminants (one Barbary red deer, five Scimitar-horned oryx, one Addax antelope and one Dorcas gazelle), all of which lived in various protected areas. PCR and nested PCRs were performed to detect the presence of Theileria spp., Babesia spp., Trypanosoma evansi, Ehrlichia spp., Anaplasma spp., Anaplasma bovis and Anaplasma phagocytophilum DNA in these tick specimens. A total of 352 ticks were collected, belonging to six different species: Hyalomma excavatum (80.6%), Hyalomma dromedarii (10.2%), Hyalomma marginatum (0.5%), Rhipicephalus bursa (0.5%), Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato (5.1%) and Ixodes ricinus (2.8%). Pathogens have been detected in 25% of H. dromedarii, 9.1% of H. excavatum and 5% of R. sanguineus sensu lato. The percentage of detection of T. evansi was 0.2%. Ehrlichia spp.-Anaplasma spp. were detected in 10.1% of ticks. Anaplasma spp. and A. bovis were detected in 7.6%, and 0.8% of examined ticks, respectively. None of the Theileria spp., Babesia spp., or A. phagocytophilum DNA was detected in the tested ticks. To our knowledge, the present study represents the first identification of these six tick species and the first detection of rickettsial pathogens and T. evansi in North African wild ruminants' species. These results extend the knowledge about the diversity of ticks and tick-borne pathogens in wildlife and justify further investigations of the possible role of R. sanguineus sensu lato in the transmission of T. evansi. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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