Infection and exposure to vector-borne pathogens in rural dogs and their ticks, Uganda

Tatiana Proboste, Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Laura Altet, Laia Solano-Gallego, Isabel G. Fernández De Mera, Andrea D. Chirife, Jesús Muro, Ester Bach, Antonio Piazza, Aitor Cevidanes, Valeria Blanda, Lawrence Mugisha, José De La Fuente, Santo Caracappa, Javier Millán

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21 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 Proboste et al. Background: In rural parts of Africa, dogs live in close association with humans and livestock, roam freely, and usually do not receive prophylactic measures. Thus, they are a source of infectious disease for humans and for wildlife such as protected carnivores. In 2011, an epidemiological study was carried out around three conservation areas in Uganda to detect the presence and determine the prevalence of vector-borne pathogens in rural dogs and associated ticks to evaluate the risk that these pathogens pose to humans and wildlife. Methods: Serum samples (n∈=∈105), blood smears (n∈=∈43) and blood preserved on FTA cards (n∈=∈38) and ticks (58 monospecific pools of Haemaphysalis leachi and Rhipicephalus praetextatus including 312 ticks from 52 dogs) were collected from dogs. Dog sera were tested by indirect immunofluorescence to detect the presence of antibodies against Rickettsia conorii and Ehrlichia canis. Antibodies against R. conorii were also examined by indirect enzyme immunoassay. Real time PCR for the detection of Rickettsia spp., Anaplasmataceae, Bartonella spp. and Babesia spp. was performed in DNA extracted from FTA cards and ticks. Results: 99 % of the dogs were seropositive to Rickettsia spp. and 29.5 % to Ehrlichia spp. Molecular analyses revealed that 7.8 % of the blood samples were infected with Babesia rossi, and all were negative for Rickettsia spp. and Ehrlichia spp. Ticks were infected with Rickettsia sp. (18.9 %), including R. conorii and R. massiliae; Ehrlichia sp. (18.9 %), including E. chaffeensis and Anaplasma platys; and B. rossi (1.7 %). Bartonella spp. was not detected in any of the blood or tick samples. Conclusions: This study confirms the presence of previously undetected vector-borne pathogens of humans and animals in East Africa. We recommend that dog owners in rural Uganda be advised to protect their animals against ectoparasites to prevent the transmission of pathogens to humans and wildlife.
Original languageEnglish
Article number306
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2015


  • Babesia
  • Dogs
  • East Africa
  • Ehrlichia
  • Rickettsia
  • Tick-borne pathogens


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