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Acta Vet Hung. 2019 Mar;67(1):70-80. doi: 10.1556/004.2019.008.

First evidence of tick-borne protozoan pathogens, Babesia sp. and Hepatozoon canis, in red foxes (vulpes vulpes) in Serbia.

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1 Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade , Belgrade , Serbia.
2 Department of Medical Entomology, Center of Excellence for Food and Vector-borne Zoonoses, Institute for Medical Research, University of Belgrade , Dr Subotića 4, P.O. Box 39, 11129 Belgrade , Serbia.
3 Laboratory of Agricultural Zoology and Entomology, Faculty of Crop Science, Agricultural University of Athens , Athens , Greece.


Tick-borne haematozoans cause severe diseases in domestic animals, and some of them have zoonotic potential. The results of previous studies in Europe point to the important role of foxes in natural endemic cycles of several tick-borne pathogens, including protozoa. The aim of the present research was to acquire information on the prevalence and distribution of tick-borne protozoan parasites among foxes in Serbia. Legally hunted foxes from 14 localities throughout Serbia were analysed. Spleen samples were collected from 129 animals and tested for the presence of Babesia spp. and Hepatozoon spp. by PCR. In total, 79/129 (61.2%) of the tested foxes were positive for H. canis, while the presence of two Babesia species was confirmed: B. vulpes (37/129, 28.7%) and B. canis (1/129, 0.8%). Coinfection with B. vulpes and H. canis was present in 26/129 (20.2%) foxes and one animal (1/129, 0.8%) was co-infected by B. canis and H. canis. The results of this study indicate the important role of foxes in the epizootiology of B. vulpes and H. canis in the Republic of Serbia and stress the need for further research to clarify all elements of the enzootic cycle of the detected pathogens, including other reservoirs, vectors, and transmission routes.


; PCR; Serbia; red fox


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