The recent characterization of the 18S rRNA of a pathogenic Babesia species in a domestic sow paved the way for establishing diagnostic and epidemiological tools for porcine babesiosis. Here, we developed the first specific Babesia sp. suis PCR and we applied this test to a panel of samples collected from animals living in a typical Mediterranean environment (Sardinia, Italy), including domestic pigs, wild boars, and ticks. In domestic pigs, PCR coupled with sequencing revealed an estimated Babesia infection frequency of 26.2% and the presence of distinct 18S sequence types. The different distribution of sequence types in symptomatic and asymptomatic subjects might suggest the existence of phylogenetically closely related strains with variable pathogenicity in pigs. Moreover, molecular identification of tick species indicated Ripicephalus sanguineus and Ripicephalus bursa as candidate vectors potentially involved in the transmission of this pathogen. Collectively, data reveal the suitability of 18S rRNA PCR/sequencing for molecular diagnosis of porcine babesiosis and for large-scale investigations on the presence and geographical distribution of Babesia sp. suis genetic variants.
Molecular epizootiology and diagnosis of porcine babesiosis in Sardinia, Italy / Zobba, Rosanna; Nuvoli, Anna Maria; Sotgiu, Francesca; Lecis, Roberta; Spezzigu, Antonio; Dore, Gian Mario; Masia, Marco Antonio; Cacciotto, Carla; Pinna Parpaglia, Maria Luisa; Dessi', Daniele; Pittau, Marco; Alberti, Alberto. - In: VECTOR BORNE AND ZOONOTIC DISEASES. - ISSN 1530-3667. - 14:10(2014), pp. 716-723. [10.1089/vbz.2014.1648]