Parasites & vectors

Detection of Theileria orientalis genotypes in Haemaphysalis longicornis ticks from southern Australia.

PMID 25889204


Theileria are blood-borne intracellular protozoal parasites belonging to the phylum Apicomplexa. Previously considered a benign parasite in Australia, outbreaks of clinical disease resulting from Theileria orientalis genotypes have been reported in Australia since 2006. Since this time, outbreaks have become widespread in south-eastern Australia, resulting in significant adverse impacts on local dairy and beef industries. This paper provides the first investigation into the possible biological and mechanical vectors involved in the rapid spread of the parasite. To identify possible vectors for disease, ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes were collected within active outbreak regions of Gippsland, Victoria. Ticks were collected from cattle and wildlife, and mosquitoes and biting flies were collected in traps in close proximity to outbreak herds. Ticks were identified via DNA barcoding of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene. Barcoded ticks were pooled according to species or phylogenetic group and tested for the presence of T. orientalis and the genotypes Ikeda, Chitose and Buffeli using real-time PCR. DNA barcoding and phylogenetic analysis identified ticks from the following species: Haemaphysalis longicornis, Ixodes holocyclus, Ixodes cornuatus, Ixodes hirsti, and Bothriocroton concolor. Additional Haemaphysalis, Ixodes and Bothriocroton spp. were also identified. Of the ticks investigated, only H. longicornis ticks from cattle carried theilerial DNA, with the genotypes Ikeda, Chitose and Buffeli represented. Mosquitoes collected in close proximity to outbreak herds included; Aedes camptorhynchus, Aedes notoscriptus, Coquillettidia linealis, Culex australicus, and Culex molestus. Low levels of T. orientalis Buffeli genotype were detected in some mosquitoes. The haematophagous flies tested negative. This is the first demonstration of a potential vector for T. orientalis in the current Australasian disease outbreak.