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Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2016 Jul;7(5):694-697. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2016.02.016. Epub 2016 Feb 26.

Uneven seasonal distribution of Babesia canis and its two 18S rDNA genotypes in questing Dermacentor reticulatus ticks in urban habitats.

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Department of Parasitology and Zoology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Szent István University, Budapest, Hungary. Electronic address:
Department of Parasitology and Zoology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Szent István University, Budapest, Hungary.
Clinical Laboratory, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


It has been reported from cities in Central Europe that clinical cases of canine babesiosis are most frequent in spring time, despite the fact that the peak activity of Dermacentor reticulatus (the vector of Babesia canis) is during autumn. The present study was initiated to evaluate the seasonal distribution of B. canis-infected D. reticulatus ticks in this context. In two habitats of Budapest 852 D. reticulatus adults were collected between August, 2014 and June, 2015. Among the molecularly analysed 413 ticks 8.2% were PCR positive for piroplasms. Both formerly reported 18S rDNA genotypes of B. canis: ("A" and "B") were identified. In habitat-1 B. canis-infected ticks were detected only in spring. Similarly, in habitat-2 B. canis-infected ticks occurred significantly more frequently during winter and spring than in the autumn (24.6% vs. 1.4%), and their monthly distribution showed significant negative correlation with tick size. The prevalence of infected ticks was the highest (43.5%) in late February. In addition, a month-dependent time-shift was noted in the appearance of the two B. canis 18S rDNA genotypes: the less pathogenic "A" predominating earlier, and the more pathogenic "B" later. It is known from literature that D. reticulatus individuals that moult to adult in the spring are smaller in size. Thus, the above results suggest that in urban habitats the occurrence of B. canis-infected ticks (or their questing activity) is more likely, when there are freshly emerged adults in the population, i.e. early in the questing season. It was also observed that the temporal distribution of D. reticulatus ticks carrying different B. canis genotypes was not random.


Canine babesiosis; Dermacentor reticulatus; Seasonality; Urban biotopes

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