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Parasitology. 2005 Oct;131(Pt 4):489-96.

Molecular characterization of haemoparasites infecting bats (Microchiroptera) in Cornwall, UK.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Chester High Road, Neston, Cheshire CH64 7TE, UK.


The presence of haemoparasites from the Order Piroplasmida and the genera Bartonella and Trypanosoma was assessed in the blood of 60 bats, belonging to 7 species, inhabiting sites across Cornwall in southwest England. DNA extracted from macerated heart tissue was incorporated into taxon-specific polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) and amplification products were sequenced as a means of identifying, or assigning an identity, to detected haemoparasites. A Piroplasmida species was detected in 6 Pipistrellus spp., whereas Bartonella infections were detected in 5 bats belonging to 4 different species. Trypanosoma dionisii was detected in 1 Pipistrellus spp. Phylogenetic inference from alignment of a partial 18S rRNA-encoding gene sequence of the pipistrelle-associated Piroplasmida species with homologous sequences available for other members of the Order indicated that this organism was unique but specifically related to members of the genus Babesia, a phylogeny that would be in keeping with the organism being Babesia vesperuginis. Alignment of partial citrate synthase gene sequences from the bat-associated bartonellae revealed 5 distinct genotypes that were probably derived from 2 distinct Bartonella species. The study demonstrates the utility of molecular methods for detecting haemoparasites in dead bats and provides, for the first time, tangible identities for bat-associated Babesia and Bartonella species.

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