BACKGROUND: Canine babesiosis caused by Babesia rossi, transmitted by Haemaphysalis elliptica in South Africa, has also
been reported from Nigeria. Although H. leachi (sensu lato) is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, published literature on
the occurrence of canine babesiosis is meagre. It has been postulated that the genotype of Babesia rossi Erythrocyte
Membrane Antigen 1 (BrEMA1) may be linked to virulence of the specific isolate. The primary objective of this study
was to detect and characterise tick-borne pathogens in dogs presented to a veterinary hospital using molecular
techniques. In B. rossi-positive specimens, we aimed to determine whether the BrEMA1 gene occurred and to
compare genotypes with those found in other isolates. Lastly, we wished to identify the tick species that were
recovered from the sampled dogs.
METHODS: Blood specimens (n = 100) were collected during January to March 2010 from domestic dogs
presented at an animal hospital in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. They were screened for the presence of Babesia/
Theileria and Ehrlichia/Anaplasma genomic DNA using PCR and Reverse Line Blot (RLB) assays. Positive B. rossi
specimens were tested for the presence of the BrEMA1gene using an RT-PCR. In addition, ticks were collected
from dogs found to be infested during sampling.
RESULTS: On RLB, 72 (72%) of the specimens were positive for one or more haemoparasites. Of the positive
specimens, 38 (53%) were infected with B. rossi; 9 (13%) with Theileria sp. (sable); 5 (7%) with either Ehrlichia
canis or Anaplasma sp. Omatjenne, respectively; 3 (4%) with Theileria equi; and 1 (1%) with B. vogeli and E.
ruminantium, respectively. Co-infections were detected in 13 (18%) of the specimens. Results of RT-PCR
screening for the BrEMA1 gene were negative. A total of 146 ticks belonging to 8 species were collected
and identified: Rhipicephalus sanguineus 107 (73%), Haemaphysalis leachi (sensu stricto) 27 (18%), R. turanicus
3 (2%), and Amblyomma variegatum, H. elliptica, R. lunulatus, R. muhsamae and R. senegalensis 1 (1%), respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Up to 8 tick-borne pathogens possibly occur in the dog population at Jos, with B. rossi being the most
prevalent. The absence of the BrEMA1 gene suggests that B. rossi occurring in that area may be less virulent than South