Original Research

Detection and analysis of tick-borne infections in communal dogs of northwest Zimbabwe

Melissa A. Kennedy, Riley E. Thompson, Anna McRee Bakker, Canny Fung, Jessica Dawson, Roger Parry, Chris Foggin, Agricola Odoi
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 92 | a2096 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v92i0.2096 | © 2021 Melissa A. Kennedy, Riley E. Thompson, Anna McRee Bakker, Canny Fung, Jessica Dawson, Roger Parry, Chris Foggin, Agricola Odoi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 June 2020 | Published: 29 April 2021

About the author(s)

Melissa A. Kennedy, Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America
Riley E. Thompson, Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America
Anna McRee Bakker, Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America; and, All Pets Health Centre, Spring Hill, Tennessee, United States of America
Canny Fung, Long Island Veterinary Specialist, Plainview, New York, United States of America
Jessica Dawson, Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Roger Parry, Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Chris Foggin, Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Agricola Odoi, Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America


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Abstract

Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) may serve as a reservoir or a sentinel for infectious disease pathogens that can affect human and wildlife health. To understand the role of tick-borne diseases in rural and lesser developed regions, we investigated the prevalence of several tick-borne pathogens in communal dogs of Zimbabwe. Blood samples from 225 dogs in northwest Zimbabwe were assessed by serology for Ehrlichia canis, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Borrelia burgdorferi, and 241 samples were assessed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for Ehrlichia. There was a high seroprevalence (73%) of E. canis-specific antibodies in domestic dogs in northwest Zimbabwe, but follow up analyses via PCR and genetic sequencing indicated only 7.5% of the canines were actively infected with the organism. Whilst indicating that an organism serologically related to E. canis is likely present in the region, this data also shows that the organism is currently present in a relative minority of the domestic dogs in the region. Its presence as evidenced by both serologic and PCR analysis is significant because of the ‘one health’ paradigm, where humans and wildlife may be affected by the exposure to this pathogen in domestic dogs.

Keywords

canine; tick; Southern Africa; Ehrlichia; one health

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