ABSTRACT: The current study was undertaken to determine if white-tailed deer in south Texas harbor Babesia bovis, a causative agent of bovine babesiosis. Blood samples from free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on two ranches in LaSalle and Webb Counties were screened for B. bovis and other hemoparasites by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect the piroplasm 18S rDNA. Serology was conducted on selected samples to detect antibody activity to B. bovis by the immunofluorescent antibody test (IFAT). PCR revealed that 16% of the LaSalle County samples and 4% of the Webb County samples were positive for B. bovis. Five of the LaSalle County and the two Webb County B. bovis 18S rDNA amplicons were cloned and sequenced. The resulting clones shared 99% identity to B. bovis 18S rRNA gene sequences derived from cattle isolates. Weak seroreactivity to B. bovis was shown by the IFAT. The samples were also screened for additional hemoparasites of deer including Theileria cervi, Babesia odocoilei and other Babesia spp. A genotypically unique Theileria sp. was found, along with T. cervi and B. odocoilei. The finding of putative B. bovis in white-tailed deer necessitates further study to determine if deer may act as a transient host or even a reservoir of infection for B. bovis pathogenic to cattle.
Veterinary Parasitology 09/2010; 172(3-4):214-20. · 2.58 Impact Factor