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Vet Parasitol. 2013 Oct 18;197(1-2):29-42. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2013.04.037. Epub 2013 Apr 26.

Molecular characterization of Trypanosoma (Megatrypanum) spp. infecting cattle (Bos taurus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) in the United States.

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Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4467, USA.


In the United States, the generally non-pathogenic trypanosome of cattle is designated Trypanosoma (Megatrypanum) theileri and is distinguished morphologically from Trypanosoma (M.) cervi, a trypanosome originally described in mule deer and elk. Phylogenetic studies of the Megatrypanum trypanosomes using various molecular markers reveal two lineages, designated TthI and TthII, with several genotypes within each. However, to date there is very limited genetic data for T. theileri, and none for the Megatrypanum trypanosomes found in wild ungulates, in the U.S. In this study U.S. isolates from cattle (Bos taurus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) (WTD), and elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) were compared by ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequence analysis and their incidence in cattle and WTD in south Texas counties was investigated. Phylogenetic analyses showed clear separation of the bovine and cervine trypanosomes. Both lineages I and II were represented in the U.S. cattle and WTD parasites. Lineage I cattle isolates were of a previously described genotype, whereas WTD and elk isolates were of two new genotypes distinct from the cattle trypanosomes. The cattle isolate of lineage II was of a previously reported genotype and was divergent from the WTD isolate, which was of a new genotype. In La Salle, Starr, Webb, and Zapata counties in south Texas a total of 51.8% of white-tailed deer were positive for trypanosomes by 18S rDNA PCR. Of the cattle screened in Webb County, 35.4% were positive. Drought conditions prevailing in south Texas when the animals were screened suggest the possibility of a vector for Trypanosoma other than the ked (Lipoptena mazamae) and tabanid flies (Tabanus spp. and Haematopota spp.).


18S ribosomal RNA gene; Cattle; Internal transcribed spacer; Trypanosoma cervi; Trypanosoma theileri; White-tailed deer

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