Species composition of ticks on donkeys and their possible role in transmission of diseases in the Mnisi Area (Mpumalanga Province), South Africa
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Donkeys are commonly used draft animals in South Africa. In the Mnisi Community Area donkeys are distributed throughout the whole area. The Mnisi Area is located in the Mpumalanga Province, adjacent to Kruger National Park and the Andover and Manyeleti game reserves, and studies about tick prevalence and Tick-borne Diseases are conducted here. The animals that are studied are mainly cattle because of their economic importance. In addition, for a better understanding about tick prevalence the occurrence of tick species on other animals throughout the area is studied. In this study ticks were collected from donkeys during winter (June-July 2013) for four consecutive weeks. The identification of the collected ticks was performed at the Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria. It showed the presence of multiple adult and nymph stages of Amblyomma hebraeum and adult stages of Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus on donkeys in the Mnisi Area. The presence of R. (B.) microplus is interesting, as it has not been described earlier in this province. This tick species is also not known to use donkeys as hosts. On 37 adult and 30 nymph Amblyomma hebraeum ticks, a Polymerase Chain Reaction and a Reverse Line Blot were conducted with the objective to detect relevant pathogens that can cause Tick-borne Diseases in this area. The results showed the presence of multiple pathogens as Anaplasma marginale, Ehrlichia ruminantium, Babesia species, Theileria equi and Rickettsia massiliae. T. equi has the possibility to cause equine piroplasmosis in donkeys and E. ruminantium can cause Heartwater and therefore have severe consequences in small ruminants in this area.