In Italy, babesiosis is widespread in several Central and Southern Regions, but few data are available on its presence in most Italian areas. In 2004 a project was financed by the MIUR to investigate on the babesiosis epidemiology in vertebrate and invertebrate hosts, and on the transmission risk for humans in Central and Northern Regions of the country. Microscopy and/or molecular tools were applied to blood samples of wild animals, livestock and pets, and to 1,677 ticks collected on animals or in the environment, with the aim of detect babesial parasites. Moreover, serological tests were used to evaluate the circulation of these protozoa among animals and people at risk. Microscopy identified as positive 5.0% of the animals, mostly living in Central Regions, but also in Northern areas considered Babesia-free. Serology evidenced the same general trend. PCR detected "piroplasm" DNA in 13.8% of the animals, and sequencing identified babesial parasites in 101/233 samples. The ticks were identified as belonging to 12 species, mostly represented by Ixodes ricinus, Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Dermacentor marginatus. Molecular analyses evidenced babesial parasites in 3.8% of them; in Rh. sanguineus was also demonstrated the vertical transmission of Babesia canis canis. To date 30 human sera have been analysed: 3 showed antibodies to B. microti. Animal babesiosis is largely present among pets, wild and farm animals, whereas goats seem refractory to the infection. In wild ungulates have been found the B. divergens-like, and the Babesia EU1 strains (reported in Italy in humans). Our findings evidenced the low reliability of microscopy in epidemiological studies, and the need of new/improved immunological tests to face diagnostic problems. The monitoring of infected areas and infection rates, joined to appropriate control programs, seems necessary to avoid the transmission of babesiosis to humans.
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|Titolo:||Animal babesiosis: an emerging zoonosis also in Italy?|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2007|
|Appare nella tipologia:||01a Articolo in rivista|