Molecular identification and prevalence of tick-borne pathogens in zebu and taurine cattle in North Cameroon
BACKGROUND:Public interest for tick-borne pathogens in cattle livestock is rising due to their veterinary and zoonotic importance. Consequently, correct identification of these potential pathogens is crucial to estimate the level of exposition, the risk and the detrimental impact on livestock and the human population. RESULTS:Conventional PCR with generic primers was used to identify groups of tick-borne pathogens in cattle breeds from northern Cameroon. The overall prevalence in 1260 blood samples was 89.1%, with 993 (78.8%) positive for Theileria/Babesia spp., 959 (76.1%) for Anaplasma/Ehrlichia spp., 225 (17.9%) for Borrelia spp., and 180 (14.3%) for Rickettsia spp. Sanger sequencing of a subset of positively-tested samples revealed the presence of Theileria mutans (92.2%, 130/141), T. velifera (16.3%, 23/141), Anaplasma centrale (10.9%, 15/137), A. marginale (30.7%, 42/137), A. platys (51.1%, 70/137), Anaplasma sp. 'Hadesa' (10.9%, 15/137), Ehrlichia ruminantium (0.7%, 1/137), E. canis (0.7%, 1/137), Borrelia theileri (91.3%, 42/46), Rickettsia africae (59.4%, 19/32) and R. felis (12.5%, 4/32). A high level of both intra- and inter-generic co-infections (76.0%) was observed. To the best of our knowledge, B. theileri, T. mutans, T. velifera, A. platys, Anaplasma sp. 'Hadesa', R. felis and E. canis are reported for the first time in cattle from Cameroon, and for R. felis it is the first discovery in the cattle host. Babesia spp. were not detected by sequencing. The highest number of still identifiable species co-infections was up to four pathogens per genus group. Multifactorial analyses revealed a significant association of infection with Borrelia theileri and anemia. Whereas animals of older age had a higher risk of infection, the Gudali cattle had a lower risk compared to the other local breeds. CONCLUSION:Co-infections of tick-borne pathogens with an overall high prevalence were found in all five study sites, and were more likely to occur than single infections. Fulani, Namchi and Kapsiki were the most infected breed in general; however, with regions as significant risk factor. A better-adapted approach for tick-borne pathogen identification in co-infected samples is a requirement for epidemiological investigations and tailored control measures.