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Prevalence and diversity of piroplasms and ticks in young raccoons and an association of Babesia sensu stricto infections with splenomegaly

  • Kayla Buck Garrett (a1) (a2), Renee Schott (a3), Lea Peshock (a4) and Michael J. Yabsley (a1) (a2)

Abstract

Piroplasms are intraerythrocytic parasites that are often transmitted by ixodid ticks, but vertical transmission is an alternative route for some species. In the USA, raccoons (Procyon lotor) are hosts for two known species, a Babesia microti-like sp. and Babesia lotori (in Babesia sensu stricto group). To better understand the natural history of Babesia in raccoons, we tested young raccoons from Minnesota and Colorado for Babesia spp., examined them for ticks, and assessing for splenomegaly as a sign of clinical disease. Raccoons from both states were infected with B. microti-like sp. and Babesia sensu stricto spp. Infections of B. microti-like were common, even in 1-week-old raccoons, suggesting vertical transmission. Babesia sensu stricto infections were more common in older raccoons. Raccoons infected with Babesia sensu stricto had significantly higher spleen:body weight ratios compared with uninfected or B. microti-like sp.-infected raccoons. Ticks were only found on raccoons from Minnesota. The most common and abundant tick was Ixodes texanus but Ixodes scapularis and Dermacentor variabilis were also found on raccoons. We report piroplasm infections and infestations with several tick species in very young raccoons. Young raccoons infected with Babesia sensu stricto spp. had higher spleen:body weight ratios, suggesting a disease risk.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Kayla Garrett and Michael Yabsley, E-mail: kaylab92@uga.edu and myabsley@uga.edu

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Prevalence and diversity of piroplasms and ticks in young raccoons and an association of Babesia sensu stricto infections with splenomegaly

  • Kayla Buck Garrett (a1) (a2), Renee Schott (a3), Lea Peshock (a4) and Michael J. Yabsley (a1) (a2)

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