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Int J Parasitol Parasites Wildl. 2020 Feb 21;11:229-234. doi: 10.1016/j.ijppaw.2020.02.005. eCollection 2020 Apr.

Prevalence of protozoan parasites in small and medium mammals in Texas, USA.

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Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843, USA.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Wildlife, 5596 East State Road 46, Bloomington, IN, 47401, USA.
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources-Department of Environmental Sciences and Technology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 1433, USA.
United States Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service, Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory, Beltsville, MD, 20705, USA.
Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843, USA.
Department of Biology, College of Sciences, Texas State San Marcos, San Marcos, TX, USA.


Wildlife interaction with humans increases the risk of potentially infected ticks seeking an opportunistic blood meal and consequently leading to zoonotic transmission. In the United States, human babesiosis is a tick-borne zoonosis most commonly caused by the intraerythrocytic protozoan parasite, Babesia microti. The presence of Babesia microti and other species of Babesia within Texas has not been well characterized, and the molecular prevalence of these pathogens within wildlife species is largely unknown. Small (e.g. rodents) and medium sized mammalian species (e.g. racoons) represent potential reservoirs for specific species of Babesia, though this relationship has not been thoroughly evaluated within Texas. This study aimed to characterize the molecular prevalence of Babesia species within small and medium sized mammals at two sites in East Texas with an emphasis on detection of pathogen presence in these two contrasting wild mammal groups at these sites. To that end, a total of 480 wild mammals representing eight genera were trapped, sampled, and screened for Babesia species using the TickPath layerplex qPCR assay. Two sites were selected for animal collection, including The Big Thicket National Preserve and Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area. Molecular analysis revealed the prevalence of various Babesia and Hepathozoon species at 0.09% each, and Sarcocystis at 0.06% . Continued molecular prevalence surveys of tick-borne pathogens in Texas wild mammals will be needed to provide novel information as to which species of Babesia are most prevalent and identify specific wildlife species as pathogen reservoirs.


Babesia microti; Babesia spp.; Hepatozoon spp.; Mesocarnivores; Sarcocystis spp.; Small-mammals

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest in the research presented in this study.

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