Original Research

Molecular screening indicates high prevalence and mixed infections of Hepatozoon parasites in wild felines from South Africa

David J. Harris, Dimitra Sergiadou, Ali Halajian, Lourens Swanepoel, Francois Roux
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 91 | a2055 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v91i0.2055 | © 2020 David J. Harris, Dimitra Sergiadou, Ali Halajian, Lourens Swanepoel, Francois Roux | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 February 2020 | Published: 30 November 2020

About the author(s)

David J. Harris, CIBIO Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, InBIO, Universidade do Porto, Vila do Conde, Portugal
Dimitra Sergiadou, CIBIO Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, InBIO, Universidade do Porto, Vila do Conde, Portugal
Ali Halajian, Department of Biodiversity, University of Limpopo, Sovenga, South Africa
Lourens Swanepoel, Department of Zoology, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa; and, African Institute for Conservation Ecology, Levubu, South Africa
Francois Roux, Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, Lydenburg, Mpumalanga, South Africa


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Abstract

Genetic diversity within partial 18S rRNA sequences from Hepatozoon protozoan parasites from wild felines in South Africa was assessed and compared with data from domestic cats to assess patterns of host specificity. Lions, leopards, servals, a caracal and an African wildcat were all positive for parasites of the Hepatozoon felis-complex. However, haplotypes were not species-specific, and potential mixed infections were widespread. Additional genetic markers are needed to untangle the extremely complex situation of these parasites in both domestic cats and wild felines in South Africa.

Keywords

18S rRNA; hepatozoonosis; Panthera; Leptailurus; Caracal; Felis; phylogeny

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