Emergence of Theileria species in ticks from free-ranging domestic animals in Raymond Mhlaba local municipality, South Africa

Benson Chuks Iweriebor*, Kayode Olayinka Afolabi, Ayabulela Nqoro, Larry Chikwelu Obi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Ticks infestation and diseases associated with it, are becoming a major life threatening concern to wildlife, domesticated animals and human health in general. Besides causing skin damage, ticks infestations have become a growing burden in food security and transmission of multiple pathogens. There is paucity of data on the occurrence of etiologic agents of tick-borne diseases in the Eastern Cape Province South Africa. We therefore carried out a molecular surveillance on Babesia and Theileria species in ticks obtained from livestock in Raymond Mhlaba District Municipality of the Province. A total of 962 ticks were collected and were morphologically identified and processed for DNA extraction using commercial DNA extraction kit. The extracted DNA samples were used to molecular identification of the ticks, and also to assess the occurrence of the Babesia and Theileria spp by PCR using genus specific primers. Positive amplicons obtained were sequenced, processed and characterised using appropriate bioinformatics tools. The molecular and morphological identifications of ticks obtained from the domestic animals in the study areas revealed that they belong to three different genera namely: Haemophalis, Rhipicephalus, and Amblyomma in ascending order of their abundance. Furthermore, the DNA of Theileria spp. was detected from 10 out of 962 ticks screened, with an overall infection of about 1% for Rhipicephalus spp., while none of the ticks was positive for Babesia spp. The phylogenetic analysis of the 10 theilerial sequences showed that nine (9) clustered distinctly within the T. orientalis complex clade, while only one (1) sequence formed a cluster with reference sequences of T. velifera. The findings from this study therefore expand the knowledge on recent emergence of Theileria spp. in livestock reared in the study area. This calls for an urgent effort in curbing the further spread of the pathogens in the area and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere09085
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Domestic animals
  • Protozoan
  • South Africa
  • Tick-borne parasites


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