Genetic characterization of piroplasms in donkeys and horses from Nigeria

Idoko Sunday Idoko, Sharon Tirosh-Levy, Monica Leszkowicz Mazuz, Babagana Mohammed Adam, Bello Sikiti Garba, Daniel Wesley Nafarnda, Amir Steinman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Equine piroplasmosis (EP) is a tick-borne disease of equids, caused by the two haemoprotozoal parasites: Theileria equi and Babesia caballi. Nigeria constitutes a major crossroads of animal transport in West Africa and may serve as a factor in EP dissemination in the region. The study aim was to characterize EP parasites in donkeys and horses in northern Nigeria using a molecular approach. Blood was collected from 57 donkeys and 47 horses. EP infection was detected and characterized by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Twenty five donkeys (43.8%) were infected with T. equi, five (8.8%) with B. caballi, three (5.3%) with dual infections. Four horses (8.5%) were infected by T. equi and none by B. caballi. Four of the five known T. equi 18S rRNA genotypes (A, B, C and D) were identified. Theileria equi ema-1 and ema-2 genes were amplified in only 2 and 10 samples, respectively, showing no genetic variation. All B. caballi isolates were classified as rap-1 genotype A1. Twenty-two (42.3%) of the donkeys were positive for anti-T. equi antibodies and 29 (55.8%) were positive for anti-B. caballi antibodies, using immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT). The study results demonstrate high genetic variation within T. equi parasites, suggesting that donkeys may be reservoirs of EP parasites in West Africa.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number324
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Babesia caballi
  • Donkeys
  • Horses
  • Nigeria
  • Theileria equi


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