BACKGROUND : The African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a host for many pathogens known to cause economically
important diseases and is often considered an important reservoir for livestock diseases. Theileriosis, heartwater,
babesiosis and anaplasmosis are considered the most important tick-borne diseases of livestock in sub-Saharan
Africa, resulting in extensive economic losses to livestock farmers in endemic areas. Information on the distribution
of tick-borne diseases and ticks is scarce in Northern Botswana. Nevertheless, this data is necessary for targeting
surveillance and control measures in livestock production at national level.
METHODS : In order to address this gap, we analyzed 120 blood samples from buffalo herds for the presence of
common tick-borne haemoparasites causing disease in livestock, collected in two of the main wildlife areas of
Northern Botswana: the Chobe National Park (CNP, n = 64) and the Okavango Delta (OD, n = 56).
RESULTS : Analysis of the reverse line blot (RLB) hybridization assay results revealed the presence of Theileria, Babesia,
Anaplasma and Ehrlichia species, either as single or mixed infections. Among the Theileria spp. present, T. parva
(60%) and T. mutans (37%) were the most prevalent. Other species of interest were Anaplasma marginale subsp.
centrale (30%), A. marginale (20%), Babesia occultans (23%) and Ehrlichia ruminantium (6%). The indirect fluorescent
antibody test (IFAT) indicated 74% of samples to be positive for the presence of T. parva antibodies. Quantitative
real-time PCR (qPCR) detected the highest level of animals infected with T. parva (81% of the samples). The level
of agreement between the tests for detection of T. parva positive animals was higher between qPCR and IFAT
(kappa = 0.56), than between qPCR and RLB (kappa = 0.26) or the latter and IFAT (kappa = 0.15).
CONCLUSIONS : This is the first report of tick-borne haemoparasites in African buffalo from northern Botswana, where
animals from the CNP showed higher levels of infection than those from OD. Considering the absence of fences
separating wildlife and livestock in the CNP and the higher levels of some parasite species in buffalo from that area,
surveillance of tick-borne diseases in livestock at the interface in the CNP should be prioritized.