Bovine anaplasmosis caused by the intraerythrocytic rickettsial pathogen Anaplasma marginale is endemic in South Africa.
Anaplasma marginale subspecies centrale also infects cattle; however, it causes a milder form of anaplasmosis and is used as a
live vaccine against A. marginale. There has been less interest in the epidemiology of A. marginale subsp. centrale, and, as a result,
there are few reports detecting natural infections of this organism. When detected in cattle, it is often assumed that it is
due to vaccination, and in most cases, it is reported as coinfection with A. marginale without characterization of the strain. A
total of 380 blood samples from wild ruminant species and cattle collected from biobanks, national parks, and other regions of
South Africa were used in duplex real-time PCR assays to simultaneously detect A. marginale and A. marginale subsp. centrale.
PCR results indicated high occurrence of A. marginale subsp. centrale infections, ranging from 25 to 100% in national parks.
Samples positive for A. marginale subsp. centrale were further characterized using the msp1aS gene, a homolog of msp1 of A.
mar-ginale, which contains repeats at the 5= ends that are useful for genotyping strains. A total of 47 Msp1aS repeats were
identified, which corresponded to 32 A. marginale subsp. centrale genotypes detected in cattle, buffalo, and wildebeest.
RepeatAnalyzer was used to examine strain diversity. Our results demonstrate a diversity of A. marginale subsp. centrale strains
from cattle and wildlife hosts from South Africa and indicate the utility of msp1aS as a genotypic marker for A. marginale
subsp. centrale strain diversity.