Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018 Feb 17. pii: S1877-959X(17)30454-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2018.02.012. [Epub ahead of print]

Molecular surveillance of novel tick-borne organisms in Madagascar’s lemurs.

Qurollo BA1, Larsen PA2, Rakotondrainibe HH3, Mahefarisoa K4, Rajaonarivelo T5, Razafindramanana J3, Breitschwerdt EB1, Junge RE6, Williams CV7.

The discovery and characterization of emerging tick-borne organisms are critical for global health initiatives to improve animal and human welfare (One Health). It is possible that unknown tick-borne organisms underlie a subset of undiagnosed illness in wildlife, domesticated species, and humans. Our study lends support to the One Health concept by highlighting the prevalence of three blood-borne organisms in wild lemurs living in close proximity to domesticated species and humans. Previously, our team identified three novel, presumably tick-borne, intravascular organisms, belonging to the genera Babesia, Borrelia, and Neoehrlichia, circulating in two of Madagascar’s lemur species. Here, we extend our previous observation by developing a targeted molecular surveillance approach aimed at determining the prevalence of these organisms in lemurs. Using quantitative PCR, we provide Babesia, Borrelia, and Neoehrlichia prevalence data for 76 individuals comprising four lemur species located in eastern Madagascar. Our results indicate a high prevalence (96%) of Babesia across sampled individuals with lower prevalences for Neoehrlichia (36%) and Borrelia (14.5%). In light of our results, we recommend additional studies of these tick-borne organisms to determine pathogenicity and assess zoonotic potency to other animals and humans in Madagascar.


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