Recently, Hepatozoon canis infection has been detected among shepherd, hunting and stray dogs in the southern part of Hungary, which is considered to be free of Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato and close to the border with Croatia. The aim of this study was to acquire information on the possibility that red foxes and/or golden jackals could play a role in the appearance and spread of H. canis in Hungary. Methods. A conventional PCR was used to amplify a 666 bp long fragment of the Hepatozoon 18S rRNA gene from blood samples collected from 334 foxes shot in 231 locations in 16 counties and 15 golden jackals shot in 9 locations in two southwestern counties close to Croatia. A second PCR assay was performed in some of the samples positive by the first PCR to amplify a larger segment (approximately 1500 bp) of the 18S rRNA gene of Hepatozoon spp. for further phylogenetic analysis. Results: Hepatozoon infection was detected in canids shot in 30 locations and 9 counties. Altogether 26 foxes (8.0%, 95% CI: 5-11%) and 9 jackals (60%, 95% CI: 33-81%) were PCR positive. Hepatozoon canis sequences were obtained from 12 foxes and 7 jackals. DNA sequences from 16 animals were 99-100% similar to H. canis from Croatian foxes or dogs while two of the sequences were 99% similar to an Italian fox. Half (13/26) of the infected red foxes and all golden jackals were shot in the two southwestern counties. Conclusions: This is the first report on molecular evidence of H. canis in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and golden jackals (Canis aureus) from Hungary, which is considered free from the tick vector of H. canis, R. sanguineus. Although no R. sanguineus sensu lato had been found on infected or non-infected wild canids, the detection of authochnous canine hepatozoonosis in Hungary might imply that the range of R. sanguineus sensu lato has reached this country.
- Golden jackal
- Hepatozoon canis